BY RAMSON ACQUAH-HAYFORD
THE PRESIDENT of the Ghana Yam Producers and Exporters Association (GYPEA), Mr. Theophilus Kenneth Hayford, says the yam sector in the country’s agriculture economy needs a Yam Development and Marketing Board.
He says there numerous challenges confronting the yam value chain such as poor quality seeds resulting in short shelf life of yam, lack of storage facilities, inadequate agric extension services, deplorable road conditions, aging workforce on yam farms and lack of financial support for the yam value chain operators in the country.
Mr Hayford expressed such view in an interview with the DAILY HERITAGE in Accra on Saturday.
He noted that the Board would coordinate the development and promotion of the yam sector similar to the Cocoa Marketing Board, as envisaged in the Yam Sector Development Strategy, and that the absence of such a board was costing the country and the yam sector players millions of dollars.
Mr Hayford added that the absence of the Yam Development and Marketing Board was also denying the national economy of Ghana essential jobs, especially in Northern Ghana and Savannah areas of the country where the yam value chain can make the desired impact in the socio-economic transformation of the people there and beyond.
“In Ghana, the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) is the most shining example of an agricultural produce development and marketing board. Since the inception of the CMB, it has implemented several bold initiatives that have resulted in sustained growth and development of the cocoa sector as a leading agricultural export earner for Ghana.
“With the immense untapped potential of yam, if we pay the right attention to this commodity, it can contribute significantly toward poverty alleviation in Ghana as a whole and in yam-growing communities such as Buya, Chinderi, Kpassa,Damanko, Bimbilla, Dambai and Kpandai, where poverty is endemic,” he said.
He added that the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the two-member Yam Development Council (YDC), tasked to oversee the implementation of the Yam Sector Development Strategy existed only in name and had no functional secretariat or core administrative and technical staff to drive the policies that might be initiated by the Council.
“This should not be the fate of a commodity with so great a potential, hence the need for a properly constituted Yam Development and Marketing Board with a functional Secretariat to spearhead the development of the yam sector and transform it into a vibrant commodity for both the domestic and international markets,” he said.
Mr Hayford remarked that in the light of this situation, GYPEA, had initiated an advocacy action under the DANIDA, European Union and USAID-sponsored Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Phase III to demand the establishment of a Yam Development and Marketing Board for Ghana, which wiould see to the formulation and implementation of appropriate policy interventions which will ensure the optimal development and sustained growth of the yam sector in Ghana.