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NPP’s ‘Special Economic Transformation Program’ to kick off in 2018

Nana Addo

The government has announced a special initiative called the “Akufo-Addo Program for Economic Transformation (AAPET)”, as a major intervention for job creation, infrastructure development and accelerated investment in Agriculture.

AAPET will envelope two already-existing special initiatives being implemented by the Akufo-Addo administration; the Planting for Food and Jobs and One-District-One Factory.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, delivering the budget statement in Parliament, explained that AAPET is envisioned “to modernize agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security and increase profitability for our farmers.”

It is a three-pronged economic development programme that will accelerate investments in agriculture, strategic infrastructure and industrialization.

The government intends to “invest in the entire agriculture and agribusiness value chain to create new business and job opportunities in the sector,” Mr. Ofori Atta said.

“Government will also invest in infrastructure that supports the opening up of the major agricultural zones of the country, in energy and related infrastructure to accelerate the industrialization agenda of Government. Significant investments will be made in the road and rail sectors of the economy to facilitate trade and the movement of goods and people, he added.

AAPET has also made provision for a grant funding facility for agribusiness startups, with support from the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan.

Infrastructure-wise, some 35 bridges and roads, will also be constructed over the next three years under this initiative. The government will also construct 99 steel bridges under this policy.

An already announced “major pension scheme for cocoa farmers” will also be launched under AAPET.

Boosting Planting for Food and Jobs

Planting for Food and Jobs, which is expected to to be rolled out in all 216 districts across the country, involves the supply of farm resources such seedlings to participating farmers, and its first phase targeted the creation of more than 750,000 jobs.

Mr. Ofori Atta noted that, investments under the Planting for Food and Jobs will be scaled up.

But the government wants AAPET to take numerous steps further, as duties on agriculture processing equipment are expected to be abolished along with support granted to agribusiness start-ups.

Minimizing the risk of agriculture financing will also be a target of the government, through agriculture financing and crop insurance schemes.

Funds from the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP), could possibly be diverted to “increase the pace of agriculture mechanization,” according to the Finance Minister.

Support from One-District-One Factory

Given government’s anticipation of success, it also intends to develop modern storage facilities through the One-District-One Factory policy.

This is possibly in line with President Akufo-Addo’s April 2017 announcement that government will construct a warehouse in every district of the country to ensure the proper storage of surplus food produce from the flagship ‘Planting for Food and Job’ program, and prevent post-harvest losses.

Improving transport will not be left out, as the AAPET is expected to “open up key food basket zones through road construction and irrigation projects.”

By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana