Ghana will host the maiden International Coconut Festival in Accra to provide a platform for diverse and high coconut industry players from across the globe to discuss the development and promotion of coconut.
The Festival scheduled from 24 to 26 September 2019 would be on the theme: "Promoting Export Diversification through a Robust Ghanaian Coconut Industry."
The event would be organized by the African Coconut Group in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ministry of Tourism Art and Culture, and the Planting for Export and Rural Development Programme (PERD).
Other collaborating institutions would include the Ghana Free Zones Authority, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Coconut Federation and the AMG Group Limited.
In a speech read on his behalf at the launch of the Festival, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Agriculture, said the programme was in line with government's agenda for PERD to reposition the coconut industry as indispensable tool for economic development.
The PERD Programme is a decentralized National Tree Crop Programme to promote rural economic growth and improve household incomes of rural farmers through the provision of certified improved seedlings, extension services, business support and regulatory mechanisms.
He said the festival would provide the needed opportunity for the country in partnership with the private sector to promote export diversification and achieve the desired rapid economic development.
It is estimated that the Global Coconut Market would reach $14.8 billion by 2024 from the current $10.1 billion in 2019.
Dr Akoto said the fair would create the desired attention on the importance of coconut and the need to invest in the sector to increase production, leading to employment for the teeming youth.
He said government had rolled-out interventions to revolutionize the agriculture sector, including the one district one factor, and planting for food and jobs.
Government has also invested $200 million in agriculture to revive the district mechanization warehouse centres and create wealth for all, especially in the rural economy.
He called on all to partner the PERD programme to restructure the economy and drive the coconut sector forward.
Madam Efua Asabea Asare, the Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, said GEPA had in the past two years promoted six key crops-cashew, rubber, shea butter, oil palm, cocoa and coconut.
She urged farmers and stakeholders to use the platform to link all local partners into the international market.
It is estimated that Coconut alone can provide the country with an amount of $2,309 dollars per ton. Coconut milk and oil is very nutritious and has important health values.
She said the Cape Saint Paul Wilt disease was the main challenge for the coconut industry since 1932 but the Authority would work with scientists from the University of Ghana and Agriculture Development Centre to help curb the disease.
She urged government, business entities and private individuals to make the most of the platform to provide employment and as well promote rural development.
Mr Eric Kwakye Dafour, the Chairman for African Coconut Group, said cocoa had carried the country on it shoulders for long and it was time to make room for other crops to be added into the income generating products.
Mr Dafour, who is also the Member of Parliament for Nkawkaw, said the launch of the project was in the right direction and it was time for the country to diversify into other products to generate more revenue.
Mr William Kwantum, the Member of Parliament for Akim Oda advised the youth to venture into coconut farming for a sustainable livelihood.