The Northern Development Authority (NDA) is seeking investments in irrigation schemes to boost cotton production and its entire value chain to economically empower the youth, especially.
According to the NDA, cotton production in the northern part of Ghana has contributed so much to economic development of the region. But in the past few years, production has reduced drastically; and interest has gone down due to changes in climatic conditions causing a decline in rainfall, as production is largely rain-fed.
The NDA’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya, called on developmental organisations – both local and international as well as corporate entities – to consider investing in irrigation schemes in the northern sector, especially cotton-growing areas, to ensure all year-round production so as to create sustainable income for the youth.
“I use this opportunity to call on national and international business people and our development partners to turn their attention to the issue of unemployment in northern Ghana, particularly the largely uneducated and unskilled teeming youth.
“I would like us to pay critical attention to the cotton industry in northern Ghana and consciously invest in that sector to ensure all year-round production to provide regular income for the youth, so they are not exploited for conflict purposes,” he said.
He stated that at the heart of the youth lies the weapons of violence and conflict – which are mostly used by politicians, businesspeople and the rich who sit at home and manipulate the youth for their own selfish interests.
This, he said, is possible because the teeming uneducated and unskilled youth in the northern part of the country are struggling to get any meaningful economic activity that will fetch them regular income, due to lack of industries, factories and economic activities to provide with them manual jobs which could secure them regular income.
While poor pricing, inability to reach target markets, and inadequate subsidy on inputs have been blamed as reasons for collapse in the cotton sector in the past, the NDA indicates demand for cotton is now high and the market is huge; hence it believes that with the appropriate irrigation infrastructure investment, the sector will boom.
Which is why the authority wants an all-hands-on desk approach, both public and private sector, to address the challenge and turn around the region’s economic fortunes.
Despite promises by government in 2017 to revive the Tumu Cotton Ginnery, the facility is still in a state of abandonment.