The 7th International Trade Show and Conference on Agriculture, Food, Beverage, Technology in West Africa, Agrofood and Plastprintpack has opened in Accra.
The three-day conference (from Tuesday, November 29, to Thursday, December 1, 2022), christened: '7th Agrofood & Plastprintpack West Africa 2022', is organised by Fairtrade Messe in collaboration with its local partners, Geovision.
It is aimed at helping countries in the West African Sub-region to increase self-sufficiency and also improve supply in the agricultural value chain.
Six countries will be mounting pavilions at this year's exhibition.
These are Germany, Italy, Iran, The Netherlands, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
In total, over 90 exhibitors from 20 countries will showcase products, technologies and solutions specifically tailored for the West African market.
Welcoming the exhibitors to the fair, the Managing Director (MD) of Fairtrade Messe, Paul Maerz, disclosed that the exhibitors come from countries including Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Ghana, Spain, Hungary, Sri Lanka, Turkeye and the United Arab Emirates.
The rest, he mentioned, are Ivory Coast, Italy, Morocco, Nigeria, Poland and USA.
According to him, the West African market for agricultural technology has become very key.
He said this against the backdrop that West African imports of agricultural machinery have reached around 200 million euros annually.
"West Africa's food and beverages technology imports increased by 5.8% annually from 496 million euros to 694 million euros in 2021," he revealed.
Further, Mr. Maerz said West African imports of plastics technology accounted for 217 million euros in 2020, having increased from 219 million euros in 2018 to 263 million euros in 2019.
He, therefore, used the chance to express gratitude to their Ghanaian partners including the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, the Association of Ghana Industries, Food and Beverage Association of Ghana among others.
The Director of Plants Protection Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) Mr Eric Bentsil Quaye, said agriculture is the mainstay of Ghana's economy and still continues to contribute heavily to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"It also creates employment and generates income through export," he added.
According to him, farmers in the West African Sub-region and other places were facing loads of challenges.
He attributed the problems confronting farmers in West Africa in particular to global activities such as Covid, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and climate change.
These negative developments, Mr. Bentsil Quaye said, have brought about food security challenges in the region.
However, he was happy to assert that the Government of Ghana's (GoG) flagship programme of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) has largely helped sustain the country's food economy.
He said Ghana's agriculture strategy leads the government's policy framework and action plans for attaining self-sustained growth in all the agriculture sub-sectors.
Again, Mr Bentsil Quaye indicated that MoFA was reducing the importation of inorganic fertilisers by encouraging the private sector to invest in organic compost.
"We have also built adequate warehouses to address post-harvest losses often associated with harvest," he said.
All these measures, he pointed out, are geared towards boosting food production in Ghana.
He described the trade conference as "timely," and commended the organisers.
In a brief remark, the Italian Ambassador to Ghana and Togo, H.E. Ms Daniela d'Orlandi, said Italy and Ghana have strong bilateral relations which have worked well for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
She said the trade fair will further bolster the relations between Italy and Ghana, adding that it will afford Ghanaian companies the opportunity to network and connect with Italian companies.
The Deputy Head of Mission, Federal Republic of Germany, Ms Suvine Jansen, who was very impressed with the number of exhibitors at the event, revealed that eleven German companies will be exhibiting their products.