Editorial: Tree Crops Authority could be a game-changer

Photo: Nana Akufo-Addo - President of Ghana

President Akufo-Addo will today inaugurate the Tree Crops Development Authority in Kumasi which is expected to diversify the country’s agricultural export commodity from the over-reliance on cocoa to other tree crops considered to possess economic value.

Government has strategically positioned the tree crop sector to drive the country’s industrialization programme through the one district, one factory (1D1F) policy.

The Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) is anchored on the export module of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), government’s flagship agricultural programme, which has been designated Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD).

PERD focuses on six tree crops namely; cashew, oil palm, shea, coconut, coffee and rubber. With cocoa currently major export commodity, PERD is envisioned to quadruple agricultural export earnings as well as serve as raw material for agro-based industries under the 1D1F.

It is anticipated that each of these tree crops could individually fetch the economy as much as cocoa currently does-altogether a total of some US$16 billion per annum from 2028 onwards. PERD was launched by the President last year at Dunkwa-on-Offin.

What is remarkable about the whole enterprise is that in 2016, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) made a commitment to accelerate the development of the tree crop sub-sector just as we have witnessed with cocoa and COCOBOD.

The thinking behind this integrated agricultural programme is spot on when one considers the fact that our economy is agro-based and leveraging on the country’s strength to diversify the country’s agricultural exports is in the right direction.

For over six decades now the economy has relied heavily on cocoa as the country’s major export commodity and incorporating cashew, shea, rubber, coconut, oil palm and coffee is bound to rake in additional revenue for the national coffers.

Government has distributed improved seedlings of the six tree crops to farmers across the country for planting and with an Authority now in place to coordinate policies and programmes to ensure production, pricing and marketing, we can safely conclude that the PERD programme has been given a new lease of life.

Price volatility has been a challenge for th4e cashew industry over the years because of the unregulated nature of the sector. Prices are mostly determined by buyers and exporters which are oftentimes under-priced to the detriment of the farmer.

The establishment of an Authority will ensure that such price volatility remains a thing of the past.

Incessant attacks on bullion vans alarming

Following the incessant attacks on bullion vans in recent times, even in broad daylight, the Bank of Ghana is in advanced talks to secure a fleet of armoured bullion vans and is contemplating securing helicopters from the Air Force to ensure the safe transportation of cash across the country.

Armed robbers, these days, are so emboldened that they would stop at nothing to get to their target-which invariably is often bullion vans. Hence, the central bank is taking steps to ensure that they are a step ahead.

A few weeks ago, a bullion van was attacked in broad daylight in the Amansie West district of the Ashanti region with the robbers absconding to with two large metal cases stacked with cash. Some of these bullion vans are not robust enough to withstand robbery attacks and we would suggest that since the Bank of Ghana is leading the charge, we would urge them to purchase heavy-duty armoured bullion vans like what the BoG has in its possession.

The ones most of the commercial banks use to transport money are not fit for purpose because they appear too fragile since they are ordinary pick-up vehicles with the bucket converted to vaults. Any daring armed robber would not think twice before embarking on an adventure to rob such vehicles, especially when there is only one armed policeman sitting next to the driver.

Another example is the one that occurred in May near Techiman where the robbers were able to get away with GH₵600,000 and the examples are one too many. The Governor told media personnel at yesterday’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting that he engaged the Air Force hierarchy with the view of assisting the airlifting of currency around the country which would also be a far safer method.

However, the cost could prove provocative and would therefore be in the best interest of the BoG to secure properly secured bullion vans that would make it difficult for robbers to attack.  The least commercial banks can afford in this time of recapitalization and renewal is for robbers to attack their vans and make away with their monies.

There are a lot of unemployed youth who are just waiting for any opportunity to pounce on, be it legitimate or not and these armed robbery of bullion vans could catch their fancy.

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