Partnerships are akin to the fetus of future business networks that grow to form profitable and sustainable value chains, Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, has said.
“Ultimately, as a sub region, our nascent steps toward a widespread transition into industrial partnership will depend on whether or not our development trajectory is defined by the long term public interest as reflected in our policy deliverables,” Mr Ahenkorah stated in Accra at the opening of the West African Fairtrade Convention.
Fairtrade Africa is an independent non-profit umbrella organisation representing all Fairtrade certified producers in Africa.
The two-day convention is on the theme “Partnerships for Impact: Unlocking the Business Potential of West African Producer Organisations”.
It brought together 250 delegates from the West Africa sub region and across Africa.
The Deputy Minister said the theme of the Convention was a quintessential part of the sub region’s export diversification strategy.
He said the involvement and inclusion of private sector views into the policy and programme formulation was a critical component of policy planning.
“In view of this, government in the coming year will institutionalise and formalise the engagements between the government representing policy makers and the private sector which ordinarily must leverage the policies developed by government,” he said.
He said the Government was developing a framework to foster this high level engagement which should lead to the organisation of a periodic dialogue session.
He noted that this dialogue platform would bring together government agencies and the business community to engage at the highest level of policy formulation to promote inclusiveness.
Mr Ahenhorah said government acknowledges the immense support Fairtrade was providing to producers by ensuring that they enjoyed secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfilled their potential and decide on their future.
He said this was helping change the narrative around agriculture in Africa, which was seeing agriculture as a business.
According to the African Development Bank, it is a business that employs about two-thirds of the population on the African continent and accounts for nearly a quarter of GDP.
“If it is therefore seen as a business it would help diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce dependence on imports and increase exports,” he said.
He said private standards like fairtrade might benefit producers through more efficient management, cost reduction, improved market access and enhanced product quality and corporate image.
He said private standards certification also allows producers to have direct access to huge supermarket chains thereby leading to an increase in export earnings.
Mr Ahenkorah said it was in view of this that government was in the final stages of approving a national quality policy.
He said the policy when approved would among other things support capacity building activities for producers and more specially exporters to meet international standards.
He said the national quality policy would also streamline the activities of the quality infrastructure institution with the view of reducing cost whiles at the same time improving export quality.
He announced that the Ministry of Trade and Industry was currently collaborating with its sister Ministry of Mines and Natural Resources in the development of National Supply Chain Programme.
He said the Ghana National Suppliers’ Development Programme comes in handy as an inclusive approach towards organizing enterprise to enterprise supplier system that would make industry especially the mining, agriculture, manufacturing and service sector reap the benefits of engaging supplier’s especially local companies.
Dr Nyagoy Nyong’o, the Executive Director, Fairtrade Africa, said the Convention would discuss how partnerships in trade contributed towards sustainable development goals and improve the livelihoods of farmers in Africa.
She said producers needed enabling environment to operate to be able to make meaningful impact.
She said cocoa producers needed to have strong networks to enable them improve the livelihood of their members and also effectively engage government.
Mr Edward Akapire, the Head, Fairtrade Africa, West Africa Network, said fairtrade would help eliminate poverty in Africa.
Nana Gyamerah, a representative of producers in Ghana, said producers in the country had a lot of potentials for business expansions.
He said challenges hampering the producers in Ghana include high interest rates and illegal mining activities.
Madam Antoinette Koudio, a representative of producers in the Ivory Coast, said it was high time governments in West Africa paid tribute to producers in the sub region.
She mentioned that climate change and global warming was affecting the activities of producers, especially farmers in the sub region.