According to Emmanuel Owusu-Poku, Acting Manager of Wenchi Agricultural Research Station, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) expects  $I6 billion annual revenue from the tree crop industry by 2028.

He noted that the government, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, is actively putting measures in place to ensure the growth and development of the tree crop sector through the Tree Crop Development Authority’s operations (TCDA).

He said the tree crops industry has great economic potentials, hence MoFA’s commitment to collaborate with all partners and actors along the value chain to develop the sector.

Mr Owusu-Poku was delivering an address on behalf of the Directorate of Crop Services at MoFA during the inauguration of the National Association of Private Tree Crop Nursery Operators at Wenchi in the Bono region.

The association provides a platform for registered private tree crop nursery operators to participate and benefit from national policies and advocacy discussions on tree crop development.

It further offers the needed atmosphere for effective collaboration with value chain actors for the sustainable development of the tree crop sector in Ghana.

Mr Owusu-Poku said MoFA, especially the Directorate of Crop Services is happy to see the tree crop value chain actors forming associations, stressing “this is what the ministry has been looking forward to seeing, so as to grow the tree crop sub-sector”.

He urged the nursery operators to be mindful of the quality of planting materials they produce and deliver to farmers.

“As you are aware, the quality of the inputs determines the quality of output so let us adhere to all the necessary nursery management practices to produce quality planting materials,” he added.

A Tree Crop and Environment Specialist with Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA), Ernest Adzim, stated that the potential for tree crops to contribute to the eradication of rural poverty and development of Ghana’s economy is enormous.

This, according to him, is a call to action for all to get on board as the industry is being developed.

“Since March 2020, MEDA has been running a mobile-based training program for farmers on good agricultural practices, environmental protection, farm business management and the need for increased women participation in tree crop farming through Farmers’ Economic Advancement through Seedlings (FEATS) project,” Mr Adzim explained.

He added that the FEATS Project aims to improve the economic well-being of some 100,000 farmers and other participants in 4 major tree crops in Ghana including Rubber, Cashew, Shea, and Cocoa.

He said, “MEDA is thus happy that through its efforts, the otherwise inactive Association of Nursery Operators has found a new sense of purpose, reorganized, and is launching itself today”.

Mr Adzim encouraged the association to forge a stronger bond with other key players such as the farmers’ associations, and most importantly, the Tree Crops Development Authority and other state agencies for the improvement of the tree crop sector.

For his part, the Coordinating Director of the Wenchi Municipal Assembly, Douglas Annoful, underscored the importance attached to tree crop farming by the assembly.

“For this reason, we produced and distributed 250,000 improved cashew seedlings to 1, 215 farmers in 2020 and 2021 under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) and Ghana Productivity Safety Net programme,” he emphasised.

He called on organizations to support the activities of the tree crop nursery operators whilst urging the operators to take a keen interest in the development of the association to realize the benefits from the tree crop sub-sector.

Chairman of the Association of Private Tree Crop Nursery Operators, Patrick Tawiah, said MEDA has been very instrumental in the mobilization and formation of the association.

He explained the association aims to produce more improved seedlings for the enhancement of the local tree crop industry as well as for export.

He further appealed to the government to get the association involved in the production of tree crop seedlings for the greening Ghana project.