NATIONAL: Ministers call for aid.
Ministers of the three Northern Regions have appealed to the country’s development partners to assist in the development of irrigation facilities in the area to ensure all year round food production.
The Ministers observed that although the Northern, Upper West and East Regions were endowed with fertile lands, they could not meet their food production targets because of their dependence on rain feed agriculture.
The Ministers said, agriculture had the capacity to transform and turn around the fortunes of the three regions if given the needed attention and called for massive investment in the sector.
Mr. Stephen Sumani Nayina, Mr. Mark Woyongo and Mr. Mahamoud Kahlid, Northern, Upper East and West Regional Ministers respectively, made the appeal at a meeting with a United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Tamale.
The team which is on a two-day working visit to the Northern Region, under the theme: “Coming together in support of the Northern Region” is to inspect some of its funded projects and assess the impact on the lives of the community.
The team which is under the leadership of Mr. Dauoda Toure, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) included Mr. Ismail Omer, Country Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, Country Representative of the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Mr. Kabuka Mwatama Banda, Water and Sanitation Specialist of UNICEF.
Mr. Woyongo, Upper East Regional Minister called for the mechanization of agriculture using the services of tractors and combine harvesters.
Citing this year as an example, he said the region had the capacity to produce about 2000 hectares of rice, but because of the lack of combine harvesters the produce would most likely be destroyed by bushfires.
He appealed to the UNDP to assist create farm settlements, open up the food producing areas by linking them up with good roads and creating market for farmers produce.
Mr. Woyongo was hopeful that if these interventions were carried out it would go along way in reducing rural poverty.
Mr. Kahlid, Upper West Regional Minister bemoaned the absence of a regional hospital in his region and said this was adversely affecting the provision of medical services to the people.
He said doctors also refused to accept postings to the region and suggested that if some incentive package could be given them, it would help solve the problem.
Mr. Nayina, Northern Regional Minister expressed worry about the chieftaincy disputes in Dagbon in the Northern Region, Bawku in the Upper East and Wa in the Upper West Regions and said until these were amicably resolved by the various Regional Houses’ of Chiefs no meaningful development could take place despite all the interventions.
Mr. Dauoda Toure said in the wake of the 2007 floods that adversely hit Northern Ghana, the UN system made several interventions to rehabilitate roads, schools and other infrastructure including the provision of relief items.
He said following these interventions UN agencies were interested in seeing how they could continue to offer further support in terms of financial resources and advocacy.
He said the UN agencies also wanted to find out the impact of their activities on the people and getting their active participation in the execution of projects so that they could take ownership of them.
Mr. Toure said there was the need to address the structural problems that made the three Northern Regions prone to floods.
The UNDP Resident Coordinator said the UN systems were also supporting the Northern Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and the Northern Development Initiative (NDI) since their activities were geared at the same objective.