The Ghana Institute of Horticulturists (GhIH) has hosted its 22nd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference in Accra, with a call on stakeholders in the horticultural industry to contribute toward protection of natural resources and ensure food safety and environmental health.
The two-day conference, held on December 8-9, 2022 on the theme ‘Strategically Positioning Horticulture to Enhance Environmental Health and Food Safety in Ghana’, is part of an important milestone toward support and implementation of sustainable natural resources management and intensification of farming systems in Ghana.
In a keynote speech, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, said the conference’s theme was appropriate – especially against the background of fighting against the galamsey menace.
She indicated that illegal mining activities have within a short period contributed to the destruction of large hectares of forest, and polluted water-bodies in the country.
“These activities have in no doubt greatly affected the quality of our environment and exposed our foods and farmlands to high risk contamination that can occur through the use of polluted irrigation water,” she said.
Horticulture crop production provides jobs for over 70 percent of the population, especially in the Northern parts of Ghana. Non-traditional export crops that are significant for employment in the sector include Shea-nut, mango, cashew as well as herbal and medicinal plants.
Indeed, the sector benefits more women in terms of employment and revenue generation – whereby they are involved in cultivation of high value vegetables and to some extent, cut-flowers.
Women also play vital roles in value addition to horticultural produce, as they are the main actors in the processing and preservation of high value vegetable and fruit.
It is estimated in many parts of Africa, including Ghana, that over 80 percent of persons engaged in food safety issues – including processing, packaging and preservation – are women.
Prof. Amfo therefore called for development of the sector to improve income and break the poverty gap for the vast majority of smallholder farmers, as well as the vulnerable sub-population.
President of the GhIH, Professor Halim Abubakari, said over the years the Institute has contributed scientifically and professionally to growth of the horticultural industry in Ghana, though there is still lots of work to be done.