Fairtrade Africa urges investment in banana production

The Executive Director of Fairtrade Africa, Dr Nyagoy Nyong’o, has called on Africa to invest more in banana production since the crop has great potential in the region.

She said aside cocoa and coffee, which attract the most premiums through the Fairtrade system, banana was the next crop to attract large premium.

Banana, she said, was only produced by three companies in Ghana and another company in East Africa. “I must say that banana has a real potential here in Africa, and we must begin to invest more into its production to improve livelihoods in the region.”

Dr Nyong’o was speaking at the Regional Fairtrade Convention underway in Accra. The two-day event is under the theme ‘Partnership for impact: unlocking the business potential of West African producer organisations’.

She said West Africa is doing well when it comes to Fairtrade in relation to Asia, with Ghana leading in premiums with crops such as cocoa and banana, followed by Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania and South Africa.

She noted that it has become important for Fairtrade Africa to promote inter-Africa trade and not just trading on foreign markets. She added that Fairtrade Africa was making plans of investing more into developing the African market.

Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, Deputy Minister of Trade, said government acknowledges the immense support Fairtrade was providing to producers by ensuring that they enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfill their potential and decide on their future.

This, he said, was helping change the narrative on agriculture in Africa, which has made many to now see agriculture as a business.

He said the number of private standards, with Fairtrade being one of them, and the effect on trade have risen progressively under the collective forces of globalisation, policy liberalisation, changing consumer preferences, and progress in information technology.

In view of this, he said, government was at the final stage of approving a national quality policy that would support capacity building activities for producers and, more importantly, for exporters to meet international standards.

The national quality policy would also streamline the activities of the quality infrastructure institution with the view of reducing cost while at the same time improving export quality.

Mr Ahenkorah said the dynamics in the global marketplace means that there was also the need to develop a clear national export strategy aimed at diversification and competitiveness.

To achieve this, he said, government would develop and aggressively implement a comprehensive project-based export diversification action plan, restructure the operations of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority to enhance export diversification, and provide support for organisations such as the Association of Ghana Industries, Ghana Chamber of Commerce, among others.

“At the IMF/World Bank meeting held this year, the Finance Minister touched on what many Africans have been hammering on for decades: fair trade. He cited cocoa, and pointed out that selling the raw beans fetches only $5 billion for Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, who jointly supply about 60 per cent of the world supply, but processing or adding value fetches $140 billion.”

He explained that the Finance Minister was advocating for a level playing field where Africans would no longer be restricted in what they sell on the international market, while calling on the West to buy Africa’s value-added goods like processed cocoa instead of raw materials.

Mr Ahenkorah indicated that agriculture, according to the African Development Bank, employs about two-thirds of the population on the African continent and accounts for nearly a quarter of GDP.
He, therefore, said that if agriculture was seen as a business, it would help diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce dependence, and increase export.

The finder