Gov’t Takes Measures To Increase Cotton Production
The Government of Ghana has pledge its commitment towards the increment of cotton production in the country.
To this end, a technical assistance programme to revitalise the cotton production in Ghana is being developed in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) International Fund for Agriculture (IFA) and the World Bank.
This, is to facilitate the adoption of new cotton varieties developed through biotechnology and incorporating genes which confer resistance to insect pest damage (Bt-cotton).
The programme would also rehabilitate the cotton classing and grading facility and also build the national capacity to produce high quality cotton.
It would also build pilot processing centres for cotton seed oil processing and other by-products from seed cotton.
At a two-day stakeholders forum held to improve the competitiveness of the cotton sector in Ghana, the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Madam Sherry Ayittey, noted that Ghana’s annual cotton production of 20,000 tonnes is inadequate as compared to China which produces 20 million tonnes annually. She pointed out that Nigeria, Benin and Burkina Faso are far ahead of Ghana in cotton production.
This, she said was due to environmental and agronomical factors militating against the industry.
She revealed that the interest of government of Ghana in cotton produced through modern biotechnology is strategic to boosting the cotton production and value chain development by cutting down production costs associated with use of pesticides and weed management.
“The UNIDO Technical Assistance Programme also emphasises ensuring the quality of cotton produced in line with international standards’, and the conversion of cotton seed into by-products such as vegetable oil, and cottonseed meal for animal feed, thus increasing the income of cotton farmers through these value addition activities”, she said.
This programme is also in line with governments’ vision to increase rural households’ income in the three northern regions of Ghana which have the highest incidence of poverty in the country to a sustainable level, the Minister noted.
On his part, the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Daniel S. Annan in a speech read on his behalf, noted that his Ministry has been in the forefront of providing cotton for the textile industry over the years.
He indicated that research into cotton and the use of technology by many countries have yielded an increase in the production of cotton.
According to him, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt),which is a common soil borne bacterium, if applied to the production of the commodity would help increase yield and go a long way to create jobs, reduce poverty and give farmers adequate source of income especially in the three northern regions.
UNIDO representative to Ghana and Togo, Mr Frank Van Rompaey, commended Ghana through the various ministries in making frantic efforts to revitalise the cotton industry.
A director at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Abass Seidu, noted that they are committed to revamp the cotton sector because it meant a lot to the farmers hence the organisation of this workshop to discuss and find possible solutions leading to the collapse of the industry.