GIZ Donates Covid-19 Support Items To Agric Ministry.

Story by Carlos Afanou

The Competitive Cashew Initiative (GIZ ComCashew) with funding from the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Switzerland’s Secretariat for Economic Affairs, has donated coronavirus relief items to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

The items include 100 pieces of Veronica buckets, 98 pieces of liquid soaps, 80 pieces of face masks, 100 pieces of dustbin, 100 pieces of hand sanitizers, 100 pieces of receptor bucket, 100 pieces of disposal tissue.

In a statement to hand over the items, Ghana Country Director of GIZ, Regina Baueroche Barbosa, said ComCashew is a regional cashew project working in six African countries, including Ghana.

For more than 10 years, she said, GIZ through ComCashew, has contributed and continues to contribute to the German government’s development efforts in the agricultural sector, by supporting a sustainable cashew value chain, and increasing its competitiveness.

“We work across the sector: in production, processing, business linkages, sector organisation and in cross-cutting areas like climate resilience, gender, and access to finance.”

“Our end goal, ladies and gentlemen, is to contribute towards strengthening the African cashew sector to reduce poverty,” according to her.

The project’s unique approach of engaging public and private partners accounts for its success. The

“We are, therefore, glad to be supporting the work of partners like the Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and other actors in fighting the spread of the virus.”

She 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, she indicated.

“For example, India (which is a main cashew processing hub) instituted major restrictions in ports and processing factories, which has lowered their processing capacity and further lowered demand and prices of raw cashew nuts bought from West African farmers.”

“We’ve had to be aware of government decisions in all the countries highlighted in the cashew map and their potential impact on cashew.”

“Even though Comcashew operates in six countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique and Sierra Leone), it is important for us to stay informed about countries around the globe because we are connected through cashew.”

The processing of nuts with social distancing poses a challenge: sitting arrangements for women in factories, transportation to work (before in bus, now on motorbikes and bicycles), working in shifts, even some processing firms have moved their staff closer to factories, according to her.

“With this and the mandatory hygiene protocols in place, processors require more resources.”

“Therefore, with support from out funding federal ministry, BMZ, it is our utmost pleasure to contribute to MoFA’s efforts against the spread of COVID-19, through the donation of support items such as veronica buckets and its associated stands; liquid soap, disposable tissue, disposable hand gloves, face masks, dustbins, and hand sanitizers.”

” In addition, 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.”

Minister of State in Charge of Food and Agriculture, Dr Gyiele Nurah, receiving the items, thanked GIZ/ComCashew and the Swizz State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) for their continuous support over the years.

He said Coronavirus has slowed economic activities, adding that “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.”

He stated therefore that “these items have thus, arrived at a very good time since all farm activities are on the verge of resuming.”

The cashew sub-sector in Ghana, he said, has become a major source of revenue earning as well as employment creation for the country.

This has, therefore, drawn the attention of Government and its developmental partners i.e. GIZ/ComCashew to continue to invest in the sub-sector in order to consolidate the gains made and to achieve the objective of promoting the commodity for exports and domestic utilization, according to him.

In view of the above-mentioned opportunities cashew offers to the country, the commodity has been selected as one of the crops to be rigorously supported and promoted under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme, he recounted.

“The Directorate of Crop Services (DCS) is leading the implementation of the PERD program specifically the production and distribution of improved planting materials.

With the support of GIZ/Comcashew and other partners, the Directorate of Crop and Services (DCS) is targeting raising 5 million cashew planting materials to be distributed to farmers for the establishment of 50,000 Ha new cashew plantation by the end of 2020. The farmer will be supported with all the necessary extension services in order to achieve the objective of adding 50,000 Ha to the existing plantations,” he said.

However, he bemoaned that the COVID-19 outbreak is threatening the realization of the aforementioned objects as well as the life of cashew farmers and technical officers at the various Agricultural Stations across the country.

“Due to the outbreak, farming activities such as land preparation, planting and pest management have been retarded as engaging labour for these activities has been a challenge.

Technical officers, farmhands and farmers fear contracting the contagious COVID-19 disease.

Meanwhile, availability and accessibility of logistics has become a challenge in these areas. It is in view of this that we requested for assistance from GIZ/ComCashew and as always, they have come to our aid.”
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