A good example is worth emulating any day. The rapid rise of countries like The Netherlands and Israel- both allies of the Ghanaian Agric Industry is a profound proof that we can truly become a global agric powerhouse if we take a cue from others who have achieved greatness.
While Ghana may not presently have the technological sophistication of the Netherlands and Israel, conscious effort aimed at learning from these countries will gradually but certainly get us to within touching distance of the heights they have achieved.
According to the myriad of literature which has documented Israel and Netherlands’ incredible rise to the top of the agricultural enterprise, at the onset of the countries national drive for agriculture, many cynics were of the opinion that the countries were bereft of the resources thought to be necessary for success in any full scale agricultural endeavour of national proportion.
Despite the two countries relatively small arable land mass, they both through a resolute approach turned to greenhouses which have been instrumental to their giant strides in agriculture. In fact, greenhouse technology is central to the seismic growth of the Dutch and Israeli agric industries.
Holland’s greenhouse complexes for instance, provide an extraordinary view of the incredible work the country has done in the area of agriculture. With some covering an upwards of 175 acres of earth, the country is now literally strewn with greenhouse edifices, which is a big demonstration how of what Ghana stands to gain with its current effort at having a liberal introduction of the technology with Messrs Agritop Ltd as the chief facilitator.
The greenhouse concept which involves sheltering and tending plant crops in climate controlled enclosures, is a wonderful innovation that has made Messrs Agritop Ltd a household name in its native Israel and elsewhere around the world.
If evil communication corrupts good manners; then positive interaction inspires great things. The latter axiom mirrors the current efforts of government and key stakeholders who have initiated a sustained effort aimed at boosting local agric through the construction, management and transfer of knowledge on greenhouse complexes. This drive though government led is ably powered by the expertise of Israeli firm, Messrs Agritop Ltd who have already made its presence felt in Ghana through the replication of state –of- the -art greenhouse technology around the country .
The firm’s latest project, a Greenhouse Village at Akumadan in the Offinso North District in the Ashanti Region for the cultivation of vegetables is set to boost agriculture in the host communities and adjoining areas. The center, which is one of three modules, covers a total of 13,500 square metres of which 4,500 square metres is put under cultivation of tomato, sweet-pepper and cucumber.
The other two with similar facilities are located at Dawhenya and Bawjiase in the Greater Accra and Central regions, respectively. Each of the three centres runs a three-month training programme for 30 agricultural graduates at a go.
The greenhouse village programme is one of the five modules under goverments flagship programme, the Planting for Food and Jobs which focuses on ensuring sufficient vegetables production for both the local and foreign markets.
The Akumadan Greenhouse Village is the second to be established with a third one already completed and awaiting official inauguration at Bawjiase.
The Centre’s which are to facilitate the development of the complete value chain of vegetable producers, aggregators, seed suppliers, input dealers, transporters and produce distributors as well as to produce quality and fresh vegetables for urban dwellers in Kumasi, Accra and Tema and also for export throughout the year, are being executed by Messrs Agritop Ltd, a globally renowned agri-firm with expertise in greenhouse construction at a total cost of $ 9.7 million.
They are designed to equip the youth with knowledge, skills and the expertise in crop production through the use of modern systems and technology and also create jobs for the unemployed graduates.
At the inaugural ceremony, President Akufo-Addo projected that the country could rake in about $1 billion from vegetable exports in seven years.
He said estimates indicated that cultivating three selected vegetables in the greenhouses could generate over GH¢2.49 million a year.
The president’s projection only point to one thing. The budding partnership with the project facilitators Agritop must be deepened because indeed If the three greenhouse villages at Dawhenya, Akumadan and Bawjiase can generate a total of GH¢2.49 million from the cultivation of only three crops, namely tomatoes, sweet pepper and cucumber, then we may well be on course to creating an avalanche of jobs and wealth for the country.
Already, About 50 agricultural graduates who had the opportunity to have a hands-on experience in the technology in Israel are back home and ready to make their expertise available for others to tap. Seventy of such graduates are currently in Israel and are expected to be returning towards the last quarter of the year to shore up the number of personnel with the know-how.
Agritop offers clients full project management service, covering all aspects of implementing a farming scheme, from inception to delivery. The firm uses its engineering excellence and modern construction methods to provide sophisticated farming solutions through the latest agricultural processes.
Agritop’s consultancy services are supplied by experts who are renowned internationally for advanced farming techniques, agricultural machinery and equipment.
Part of the science behind effective agro-technology is working with technology and building methods that suit the climate and environmental conditions of the desired location. Here, Agritop succeeds by approaching each project afresh. Everything is customized to the project’s eco structure.
There’s an existing cordiality between Israeli agri-firms and Ghana. Recently, 51 Ghanaian students travelled to Israel to begin an 11-month long intensive practical agricultural training with AgroStudies. AgroStudies is an Israeli program which offers apprenticeship that focuses on agriculture capacity building and promotes food security. This is collaboration between the Government of Ghana’s Ministry of Food & Agriculture and the State of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking at a send-off ceremony for the apprentices, H. E. Shani Cooper, Israeli Ambassador to Ghana explained that, “the state of Israel sees this project as a great opportunity for a perfect cooperation since Ghana and Israel are equal in the equation of beneficiaries. Israel is in need of good and trained people to work in agriculture and at the same time gather knowledge and rich experience.”
Being the pioneers of this collaborating, H. E. Shani Cooper charged the apprentices to take up the responsibility of ensuring that, their conduct will be above impressive to pave way for the next batch of the apprentices.
“Though you represent yourself, your community and your country, you also carry the burden of the next groups of students that would like to be part of this project in the future,” she added.
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto also called on the apprentices to take this opportunity seriously and learn every aspect of the trade since they are expected to return to help set up a vibrant vegetable sector in Ghana.
He further asked them to be good ambassadors of Ghana, ensure discipline and comportment themselves. Speaking on behalf of the management of AgriTop, an Israeli greenhouse technology-training academy in Ghana, Mr Prince Kwame Boakye encouraged the beneficiaries to apply themselves to learn as much as they can.
The apprentices, who have also undergone a three-month training in greenhouse technology with AgriTop will be attached to cooperative farms called Kibbutz or Moshav, where they will work on the field for five days and attend theoretical classes once a week in AgroStudies campuses across Israel.
While in Israel, the graduates will be paid a monthly allowance, which they will be expected to, save to enable them to kick start their own Agribusiness upon their return. They will be among 1600 students from Africa, Asia and South America. The beneficiaries are expected to return to Ghana with enriched experience and knowledge given by the best farmers in Israel.
Ghana enjoys a healthy relationship with Israel on many fronts. In agriculture, Ghana has been a beneficiary of numerous support schemes and funding for projects aimed at helping the country shine bright in the area of agriculture. This enduring relationship between the two countries means the wonderful work being done by Agritop can only develop further to impact the lives of more people in rural Ghana.