Mr Augustine Collins Ntim, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development said, the new Rural Development Policy developed by Government is expected to ensure transformative change in the lives of rural people.
He said the policy is also intended to change the country’s approach to development in rural areas and seeks to provide the right perspective, direction and effective coordination for rural development.
Mr Ntim was speaking at the opening of the second in a series of the stakeholders’ consultative workshop on the new rural development policy organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for selected Ministries, Department and Agencies from Western and Central Regions in Cape Coast.
He said the policy and its action plan would provide an impetus to source funding for its implementation.“It is to provide a vehicle to facilitate rural-urban linkages for sustainable development within the country”.
The policy is informative with key issues or challenges in the rural communities including, high incidence of poverty, out migration, inadequate employment opportunities in rural areas, low investment in infrastructure, and high incidence of illiteracy and non-functioning of sub-district structure.
It also focused on agriculture, social service provision, industrialisation, financial inclusion and skills development as drivers of change in rural areas, in Ghana and the utilisation of the potentials for rural development to tackle issues that would deliver the desired conditions for rural growth and development.
The purpose of the workshop was for participants to study and critically examine the six objectives and 30 strategies developed within its thematic areas, critique the document and make inputs that would enrich the policy.
Mr Ntim who is also the Member of Parliament for Offinso North said the policy would effectively coordinate interventions designed to improve rural standards of living and provision of basic social and economic services by creating a political, legal, economic and social environment, to empower rural areas to take charge of their own development.
“It would also ensure the delivery of government programmes of the One District, One Factory; Planting for Food and Jobs and One Village, One Dam initiatives”The Deputy Minister said there were several principles guiding the development of the policy, namely Constitutional mandate, Decentralisation, Inter-sectoral Coordination and Partnerships, Cultural Diversity and Sustainable development.
He said the Ministry had initiated the District Centre for Agriculture, Commerce and Technology as a strategy to deliver industrialisation and improvement in agriculture across the country, especially in rural areas.Mr Ntim said rural development efforts had been around since independence and in the past involved the construction of community centres, provision of rural quarters and grading of farm roads among others.
“Rural development has evolved around efforts to improve standard of living of the rural dwellers and governments over the years have made efforts to improve the standards of living of the rural population.”Mr Thomas Adjei, Deputy Central Regional Minister urged participants to indicate their commitment to ensuring rural development by making inputs to the draft policy.
He said the lifestyle of rural villages must compete with the urban areas to prevent the migration of the rural folk and this can be done through the implementation of this policy.Mr Adjei said there was the need for a development policy to guide all developments especially in the rural areas of the country, adding that, development that are haphazardly done posed problems to us all, now and in the future.
Mr Sylvanus Kofi Adzornu, Director, Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry took participants through the draft document and its establishment processes.He said the policy objectives was to modernise agriculture for rural growth and development; provide quality socio-economic infrastructure and services in a decent and secured environment; maximise the potential of rural areas towards rural enterprises development and industrialisation and promote sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources for the benefit of the rural population.