The European Union (EU) and Ministry of Finance have launched the Research and Innovation for Sustainable Development (CSO-RISE) programme to sustain agriculture, social protection and improve the living conditions of communities through employment.
The programme seeks to contribute to inclusive growth and reduction of social inequalities as part of interventions to support priorities in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) II.
It targets rural communities in the Bono, Bono East, Northern, North East, Savanna, Upper East and West, Central and Western regions.
Mr Charles Adu-Boahen, the Deputy Minister of Finance, who launched the programme, said four civil society organisations (CSOs) were being supported with 7.32 million Euros to implement it through direct management with the EU.
The CSOs include Cerath Development Organisation (CDO), Centre for Local Government (Advocacy), Action Aid, and Cooperazione Internazionale Sud (CISS).
He said it intended to close the gap between the northern and southern zones of Ghana since poverty rates in the northern zone were three times compared to the national average.
It will also foster the initiatives of the CSO's to address the economic, social and climate-resilient issues through economic interventions that would sustainably manage ecosystem in the country.
Mr Adu-Boahen said the CSO-RISE Programme would contribute to inclusive growth and reduction of social inequalities as part of intervention to support priorities set in the GSGDA II and the President's Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (2017 -2024).
Areas to be considered include development of technologies, economic activities and sector policies coherent with principles of sustainable agriculture and decent work.
The Deputy Finance Minister explained that the programme would increase access and quality of service delivery in relation to social protection and employment as well as decent work opportunities in the fields of sustainable agriculture and green economy.
Ghana aspired to be self-sufficient in terms of food production as well as ensuring modernisation of agriculture, he said.
He lauded the initiative adopted by some stakeholders to boost the consumption of local rice in the country saying; "It is time for us to stop importing certain foods that could be cultivated here in Ghana."
Madam Diana Acconcia, the EU Head of Delegation in Ghana, indicated that the programme focused on three main components; agriculture, climate change and social protection.
The overall objective was to improve the living conditions of communities in selected districts across the country, she said, and that it would be implemented in 40 municipalities in the nine regions selected.
She said Ghana's agriculture and fisheries sectors offered great opportunities to lift rural communities out of poverty.
"This can be done in a way that prevents climate change and protects the environment," Madam Acconcia said.
Action Aid would implement the Northern Ghana Integrated project to increase the resilience of smallholder farmers by focusing on nurseries, shea butter and honey to promote sustainable agriculture practices and contribute to a greener economy and preserve biodiversity.
CISS would implement the Sustainable Livelihoods Project focused on cashew and beekeeping to promote adapted and small scale technologies for farming and environmental protection.
The Centre for Local Government Advocacy would implement the PREDOSOP project, which would promote the development of ginger and fish value chains.
CDO would implement 'The Power to Fishers' project to increase the incomes of fishers and improve the health status of fish mongers in the Central and Greater Accra regions.
Madam Acconcia expressed optimism that the programme would create decent jobs for farmers and workers in the informal economy led by women, Persons Leaving with Disability, and the youth.
It would promote new practices and technologies through the use of improved ovens for fish smoking in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly environment.
She explained that practices and methodologies of the various aspects of the programme would be disseminated to other organisations through a knowledge and information platform to ensure continuity and sustainability.
"We hope that these projects would contribute for the creation of sustainable businesses that would increase employment amongst women and young people."