By Patrick Biddah
A former Finance Minister under the Prof. Evans Atta Mills regime, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, is advocating for a cassava value chain development programme, which will be a catalyst for job creation for the youth.
He said, the full potential of cassava has not been developed, but this proposed programme will help in the national economic growth.
“ This government sponsored programme will use fiscal incentives and direct policy measures to promote and expand industrial processing of cassava into various kinds of finished and semi- finished products “, he noted
“ Promote and expand exports of cassava-based products to traditional and untapped markets “, he added.
Speaking at his maiden lecture in Accra, “The Ghanaian Dream: Transforming The Economy Through The Creation Of Jobs and Opportunities For All”, Dr. Duffour, was of the view that this programme will create thousands of jobs by encouraging and supporting cassava entrepreneurship.
He said, the large demand for cassava for industrial purposes in the country was one of the outcomes for the production of cassava-based beer called Ruut Extra Beer when he was Finance Minister .
“The crop which accounts for about a fifth of annual agricultural output is widely cultivated in the country mostly for consumption as food”, he said
“Production has risen from 12.23 million metric tons in 2009 to 22.45million metric tons in 2019 , making Ghana the second-largest cassava producer in Africa and fifth largest in the world “ , he added.
Although, it is principally consumed as food, Dr. Duffour indicated that cassava has several industrial and non- food application
These , he noted includes the use of cassava for flour and starch which are the two main derivatives of the crop, adding that it is the raw materials in industries such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, confectionary, paper , beverages and bio energy.
In the face of the immense job creation challenges, the need to fully exploit the economic benefits of cassava , he said can no longer be ignored.
“Currently, Asia provides the biggest market for cassava derivatives with China the predominant source of demand for cassava starch, flour, chips and pellets. Currently, Ghana’s share of this trade is low but can be significantly boosted if the right enabling environment is created “, he advised.