The European Union (EU) and the Government of Ghana have inaugurated a 224 state-of-the-art on-farm housing units and other ancillary social infrastructure to enhance farming activities and also boost exports.
The facility, which will bolster the agricultural sector while enhancing social welfare within farming communities, is located on the plantation of Golden Exotic Limited (GEL) in Asutsuare in the Shai Osoduku District of the Greater Accra Region.
Speaking at the inauguration, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei, described the project as a groundbreaking intervention that will improve the lives of Ghanaian farmers and thanked the EU for the support.
“This is an embodiment of the shared vision for rural development and poverty reduction, which lies at the core of our collaboration,” she said.
According to her, the EU market plays a crucial role in Ghana’s banana exports because the fruit is the West African country’s top horticultural export both in terms of volume and value.
Out of the country’s 125,829 metric tons of annual banana production in 2022, 59,563 metric tons were exported to the EU market, a marginal decrease from the 67,126 metric tons that the EU market received from Ghana in 2021.
Asiamah-Adjei believes a strong focus on the EU market will be crucial in reversing the downward trend.
“The country’s banana exports have significantly increased over the last 15 years, from 32,240 tons in 2007 to 108,379 tons in 2021. In this regard, the EU market will continue to be a major destination for Ghana’s banana exports,” she said.
Dubbed the EU-Ghana Housing Project, the intervention is part of Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) adopted by the EU in 2010, as a support package to 10 banana-exporting countries (including Ghana) from the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group of States.
“After the European Union concluded a deal with Latin America and the USA in 2009 to settle the 15-year Trade disputes, the agreed cuts in EU Tariffs for banana imported from Latin American countries increased competition for African and Caribbean banana exporters. The Accompanying Measures were therefore introduced to help the African and Caribbean banana exporting countries to remain competitive in the EU market,” the deputy trade minister stated in the speech she delivered on behalf of KT Hammond, the substantive minister.
She expressed optimism that the intervention will help Ghanaian banana export industry “to become more competitive and also save jobs and livelihood of banana farmers and their families.”
The EU and the government of Ghana in 2013 signed a Financing Agreement (FA) for the BAM package at a total cost of 7.2 million Euros with Golden Exotics Limited and Volta River Estates Limited as the beneficiaries.
For Golden Exotics Limited (GEL), the EU funding was allocated specifically for the development of 224 new housing units and social infrastructure at Kasunja, designed to benefit the farm workers and their families.
Regarding Volta River Estates Limited (VREL), the EU funding was directed towards the production of high-quality organic certified compost, allowing the company to market their products as premium organic produce.
“In essence, the BAM support enabled the banana-producing companies to invest more, protect efficiency and productivity in their respective operations, as well as reducing the cost of production. This greatly helped to improve competitiveness in the EU market,” said Mrs. Asiamah-Adjei. “Without this support, there would possibly have been layoffs of workers, and a significant number of families affected by the income and job losses.”
When fully allocated, the housing project is expected to have a positive impact in terms of labour productivity and also help reduce the company’s cost operations. This includes the daily cost to transport, as well as the cost of fuel and maintenance of the over 60 buses that convey farmers from as far as Asutsuare and Atimpoku to the plantations daily. This would directly have a positive impact on productivity and ultimately, increase our banana exports.