The Central Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Sarpong has launched a GH¢1.2 million organic Sugar-Loaf Pineapple growing project at Essarkyir in the Ekumfi District of the Central Region.
The project which is jointly sponsored by Japan and the Central Regional Development Commission (CEDECOM) is aimed at expanding and improving sugar-loaf pineapple cultivation in order to reduce poverty in the district.
The two-year project would assist 277 small holder- farmers in the district to cultivate one- acre pineapple farm each and also create access to export market.
The launch was on the theme: “Stimulating High Economic Growth through Pineapple Production.”
Mr Sarpong, who addressed a durbar of chiefs and people of the area, commended the Japan the constant support to Ghana and urged the beneficiaries to make maximum use of the funds provided to increase their products as well as improve upon their living standards.
He said the money is a revolving fund and so the beneficiaries should make sure it yields the needed profit for others to also profit from it.
Mr Sarpong also urged them to take advantage of the project to produce quality pineapples that would meet the international market standards.
Mr Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry said government has an agricultural base policy that aims at ensuring the production of the necessary raw materials to feed the nation’s industries.
He said pineapple cultivation would be given the necessary boost to increase production so as to meet local and international demands.
Mr Spencer Taylor Acting Executive Director of CEDECOM noted that pineapple growing has been identified as the pre-occupation and the life blood of the people of Ekumfi although the farmers are confronted with challenges which position them below the poverty line.
He said pineapple cultivation in the area is saddled with challenges including pest infestation and unavailability of market for the product, which leads to huge post- harvest losses and low pricing of the commodity.
Mr Taylor said the commission contributed GH¢200.00 towards the projects and that 10 communities would be beneficiaries of the project.
Mr Abeiku Crentsil Member of Parliament for Ekumfi Constituency commended CEDECOM for making provisions for the beneficiaries to retain 30 per cent of the revenue.
This he noted would help with the development of the area.
Mr Crentsil appealed to the government and civil society organisations to provide the area with a processing factory so as to help reduce post-harvest losses.
Safohen Nana Imprem VI, Acting President of Ekumfi Traditional Council, who presided over the event appealed for the reconstruction of the Otuam – Ekumfi road as well as some feeder roads in the District.