Speech By Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister Of Food And Agriculture At The Kosmos Innovation Center Agritech Challenge Investment Award

I wish to express my profound gratitude to Kosmos Energy, for inviting me to be part of this investment awards ceremony. It is also gratifying to note that Kosmos Energy has taken this bold step outside its core business, as an oil and gas production company to create a programme which is focused on turning around the fortunes of the Agricultural sector in Ghana.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, “Agriculture” continues to be the anchor of the country’s economy, employing more than half of our workforce. Growth in this sector however, has declined dramatically. Our vision for the next four years is to modernize agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security, and profitability for our farmers, all aimed at significantly increasing agricultural productivity.
Although the goal of the Kosmos Innovation Center is to harness the youth to leverage information, communication and technology (ICT) and innovation to solve some of the country’s development problems, the choice of agriculture as your first focus sector, and particularly blazing the trail in nurturing and creating E-Agribusiness in Ghana must be commended!

This intervention is timely and appropriate as the sector increasingly requires an infusion of new life to attract our youth to find their space within the agricultural value chain.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, “ICT for Agric” is indeed inherent with the NPP government’s” value addition strategy”, targeted at rapidly ramping up the agricultural sector with the aim of developing new and stable markets for our products and infusing life and energy into the sector. We need such strategies to transform the economy through a modernised agriculture-led growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen, practically “E-“ has been applied to every sector in this country except for agriculture. My Ministry is in the forefront to ensure that recommendations outlined in the 2004 ICT for Development (ICT4D) Policy known as “An Integrated ICT-led Socio-economic Development Policy and Plan Development Framework for Ghana” and the communique from the 68th New Year School, which called for “Modernizing Agriculture through information, communication and technology (ICT)” is critically considered for implementation.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this initiative to engage our youth to explore the nexus between innovation, ICT and agriculture no doubt makes a compelling case for the attraction of the youth to this sector and, greatly also erodes the erroneous impression that agriculture is only about tiling land, for the unlettered and for an older generation.

This Kosmos Innovation Center program, complements government’s efforts under the “Planting for Food and Jobs” initiative by the NPP government, which is focused on ensuring food security for Ghana and to channel the millions of dollars spent on importing food, into additional investment and innovation to move agriculture to the next level in Ghana.

I am particularly excited about the innovations these young entrepreneurs have developed and I believe they will go a long way to complement my ministry’s effort to ensure that genuine agro-inputs are accessed by our farmers and, interventions to help livestock and poultry farmers in Ghana are available.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the need to apply ICT and innovation to this sector is long overdue.

I am happy to hear that the Kosmos Innovation Center also supports small and medium size agribusinesses through an “Acceleration” programme. Our SME’s need capacity building, technical support and of course access to funds. Yes, we support this kind of programme which we believe will see a positive turnaround of enterprises within the Agric value chain and which potentially can have a strong socio-economic impact on the Ghanaian economy.

This sector which still employs the most Ghanaians has the best prospects for improving living standards. With the right strategies, we can provide Ghanaian industries with raw materials and hold out the best prospects for increasing the country’s exports in raw and semi processed forms.

Distinguished Invited Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen, the NPP government is business oriented! We believe in the role of the private sector as partners in the development of our dear nation. Hence the Ministry of Food & Agriculture takes this opportunity to call on other institutions to emulate the example of Kosmos Energy and plough back their some of their profits into such social investment initiatives.
Please join me in congratulating Kosmos Energy and the business teams who have stepped up to help build this critical sector of our economy.
Many thanks for your attention and God bless us all.