The GIZ-Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) programme, with joint funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other essential health supplies to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).
The event was attended by the Swiss Ambassador, H.E. Philipp Stalder; GIZ Ghana Country Director, Regina Bauerochse Barbosa; Minister of State at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Gyiele Nurah; and the Director of Crop services, Mr. Seth Osei Akoto, among others.
The donation forms part of measures put in place by the GIZ-implemented Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) to support actors in the cashew value chain in curbing spread of the COVID-19 virus. The items will enable MoFA to implement social distancing protocols and protect the welfare of its staff during this difficult time.
Speaking at the event, H.E. Philipp Stalder acknowledged the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has had a negative impact on all of us. He stated: “We have to mention COVID-19. It has a very negative impact on all of us, but especially on the actors in the value chain of the agricultural sector. Therefore, it is crucial that MoFA together with international partners and donor organisations like SECO and GIZ work closely together with the farmers, by assisting them and also offering training possibilities. Those interactions are more important than ever, and should hopefully not be affected by the fear of being infected with Coronavirus”.
Despite the challenges, Ambassador Stalder was very optimistic for the future. He said: “There is a saying among economists: ‘never miss a good crisis’. So, if COVID-19 has anything good for us, then perhaps it is the recognition and reminder to all of us that only through constant reforms, strengthening competitiveness, innovation and offering trainings that the lives of our people and our farmers can be improved”.
Also speaking at the handing-over ceremony, the GIZ Country Director for Ghana, Madam Regina Bauerochse Barbosa said: “As an organisation that supports the cashew sector, COVID-19 has led GIZ to increase its level of attention to the dynamics globally – and what governments around the world are deciding in light of the pandemic. The processing of nuts with social distancing poses a challenge: seating arrangements for women in factories, transportation to work (before in bus, now on motorbikes and bicycles), working in shifts – some processing firms have even moved their staff closer to factories. With this and the mandatory hygiene protocols in place, processors require more resources.”
She added that both GIZ and SECO were pleased to contribute to MoFA’s efforts against the spread of COVID-19, through the donation of support items such as Veronica buckets and associated stands; liquid soap, disposable tissue, disposable gloves, face masks, dustbins, and hand sanitisers.
Madam Bauerochse Barbosa further mentioned that Comcashew is collaborating with the ministry’s Directorate of Crop Services to support some cashew farmer cooperatives in the Bono, Bono East, Ashanti, Savannah, Volta, Eastern and Oti Regions, and believes that the support will go a long way to help control spread of the virus. Before concluding her remarks, she re-echoed her delight in some of the interventions currently ongoing to ensure a better cashew sector, announcing that: “Together with the Directorate of Crop Services, Fairtrade and REWE, we [GIZ] have launched the ‘Living Income & Tree Crop’ project on behalf of the BMZ – in order to bring to the fore questions on an adequate income for smallholders, and develop activities aimed at reducing or closing the gap between current and ‘Living Income’.
While receiving the items, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Gyiele Nurah, expressed his gratitude for the items and added that they are arriving at the perfect time. “COVID-19 has been with us for a while, and has slowed down activities as a result. This has made it difficult for actors in the sector, especially staff of MoFA, to constantly engage with the farmers. Gradually, restrictions are easing and things are getting back to normal. These items have thus arrived at a very good time, since all farm activities are on the verge of resuming.” He reiterated his appreciation for the items and assured all parties involved that they will be used for their intended purpose.
GIZ and SECO have jointly bolstered other cashew value chain actors with COVID-19 support items in the past, and are currently funding other joint interventions in the Ghanaian cashew sector that include technical assistance with cashew-apple processing, and support with policy formulation and sector organisation, among others.