The government has secured a $ 34 million loan facility to fully rehabilitate the Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Project.
The project, which was completed pending investors, is located between Akuse in the Eastern region and Torgorme in the North Tongu district in the Volta region.
Food and Agriculture Minister Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto said the rehabilitation would pave the way for commercial rice production, adding that some 110 foreign and local investors have expressed interest in investing in the project. implemented by the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP).
Speaking to a delegation of chiefs and people from the traditional area of Torgorme in his office in Accra, Dr Akoto assured them that in rehabilitating the area for commercial farmers, the ministry was concerned about the natives and therefore , has reserved a sufficient portion of the irrigation land for them to cultivate.
The delegation, led by Makrado de Torgorme, Togbe Gidi IV, met with the minister to ask for clarification on the perspectives of the natives interested in agriculture in the rehabilitated area.
They also requested the minister’s intervention to ensure that the companies that could be born from the project do not exploit the local workforce with low wages.
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The minister called on the residents of Torgorme to refrain from any comments likely to scare off potential investors.
“As a government, we cannot risk this investment with statements made by local leaders,” he said, adding that some of the investors were worried about statements attributed to Togbe Gidi IV at a conference on the investment held at the project site.
He said Ghana had a reputation to protect, adding that “Ghana is the only one with democracy and foreign investors have confidence in the economy”.
Dr Akoto assured the chief and his people that in addition to the opportunity created for indigenous people to participate in agriculture, the project would provide employment opportunities for thousands of young people.
“So you have absolutely nothing to fear that you will be refused. On the contrary, we bring opportunities to young people and farmers in your region, ”he told those around him.
He explained that the project area was secure government property in the early 1970s that was not fully utilized until the current government decided to rehabilitate it for commercial agriculture.
“Unlike the first phase where the project was carried out as a social beneficiary project, this time it is a purely commercial project. The project has to generate money to pay off the loan and then to maintain the facility, ”explained Dr Akoto.
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Togbe Gidi IV thanked the minister for the invitation and assured that the inhabitants of Torgorme were not against the project but feared not to be taken into account in the scheme of things.
He said that as a leader he only echoed the concerns of his people and was happy that the ministry took into consideration the desire of the natives to cultivate at the project site.
The GCAP project coordinator, Mr. Osei Owusu-Agyeman, called on the leader and people at the project site to maintain the spirit of collaboration that the project has enjoyed so far, assuring them that the government does not would never undermine.
He said the strategy was to create an economic zone and called on them to work with the management of the project.
North Tongu District Chief Executive Mr. Richard Collins Arku was pleased that the issues that concerned the Chief and his people had been addressed.