Besides lack of development, education, disease, food security, unemployment is also gaining recognition as a well-documented crisis relating to poverty in Ghana.
The rate of unemployment in Ghana increased from 5.54% in 2015 to 5.77% in 2016, this pushes the average rate to 6.51% between the periods of 1991 to 2016, reaching an alarming level (GSS- Ghana Labour Force Survey, 2016). Unemployment has become a common phenomenon and cancer all over the world and if individual economies like Ghana does not rise up to the occasion it would be hard to receive any meaningful interventions from other economies facing similar plights.
For the vast majority of the world’s poor, the land they occupy is their only significant asset. Unfortunately, in Ghana most of these individuals have not been able to invest and till these lands for substantial economic gains. A report by WFP (2009) revealed that about 1.2 million people, representing 5 percent of Ghana’s population, are food insecure. Also, according to FAO (2010), there are an estimated 925 million hungry people in the world. Around 1.4 billion people live on less than US$1.25 a day. Poor people spend between 50 and 80 per cent of their income on food. The world population is expected to reach 9.1 billion by 2050 and food production will need to nearly double by 2050 in developing countries. About 40 per cent of the world’s arable land is degraded to some degree and will be further affected by climate change. There are about half a billion small farms in the world, supporting around 2 billion people. There has not been any significant improvement barely 7 years after these observations.
It is the firm conviction of Casa de Ropa Limited based on lessons learnt from our experiences that the Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato farming and processing could be the game changer in our local communities, to create employment, to generate income, to enhance healthy conditions especially of children and women and to improve living standards in general. FAO (2010) GDP growth generated by agriculture is up to four times more effective in reducing poverty than growth generated by other sectors. Potato is a well-known crop in Ghana that serves mainly as staple food to many people especially in the rural areas. The usefulness of the crop has however been realized of late with the introduction of the variety known as the Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato – ( OFSP). Orange-fleshed sweet potato as a staple food has an advantage over most vegetables, it has significant amounts of beta-carotene content (vitamin A) and a lot of energy at the same time. Also, its bakery properties are incredible.
Casa de Ropa believes that primary production is the sure way to change the economy of Ghana and processing what is produced will create the desired sustainability. Most local farmers have no other employable skills, hence they are very susceptible to poverty, if what they produce from their farms do not find reliable and consistent market. Training and mentoring farmers to produce orange flesh sweet potato would have significant economic benefits to them and their families.
A factory is being established at Gomao Bewadze, Gomoa West District of the Central Region to process the Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato into puree, which lend itself into further processing into biscuit, bread and chips, crisp, dough nuts, pies and other pastries.
A key benefit of the factory is the fact that its main raw material, the orange fleshed sweet potato is locally produced and forms more than 50% of its inputs, in the production of chips, bread and biscuits.
The government purchasing power will be explored to generate additional market. The school feeding program from primary school to secondary school, the prisons, hospitals and other institutions of the like where imported food items are served can be complimented by the numerous recipes from the sweet potatoes. The export market will be keenly looked into for both the fresh roots and the processed products.
Substituting a percentage of imported flour with the fresh roots of the Orange Flesh Sweet Potato produced by the local farmers will improve the nation’s balance of payment challenges.