The Director of Acquatic World Industries Limited, Ms Mabel Quarshie, has called on government to create an enabling environment to ensure that the agricultural sector benefits from all other sectors of the economy.
She said while the sector played a key role in aiding manufacturing, the country was losing out on how to process the waste from the agric sector to serve as input for industry and an employment avenue for people.
Speaking in an interview on July 31 after a GRAPHIC BUSINESS/ Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting in Accra, Ms Quarshie said processing waste into useful inputs for other sectors would encourage people to go into the sector because they would earn additional income.
“If I am going into an industry where I know that I will have use for my byproducts and it gives me additional income aside my mainstream production that I am involved in, then I will increase production,” she said after the forum which was on the theme: “Unlocking eco
Ms Quarshie explained that the things that ordinarily would be thrown away after production could become useful in other areas, hence the need to focus efforts in that regard.
Citing fish farming, for instance, she said, fuel and fishmeal could be acquired from the waste after processing. The scales could also be coloured and used in the art industry.
“Even in the processing, the waste that comes out of it also becomes a primary product for something else. All that we knew was having the fishmeal after you process it, but you can have fuel, that can give extra income to the women,” she said.
A key challenge for players in the agric sector remains the absence of storage facilities, and as a result, most of the produce go waste.
This challenge, she stated, still persisted and was discouraging since it made most women shy away from the sector.
“Women produce every year but because of the perishable nature of the products they produce and are helpless, they are forced to sell at very cheap prices. If I have to sell the things very cheaply, next year I will not go into it.”
“If I stop producing, then where will the raw materials come from, but if I know that even if I produce and it is not even bumper harvest, and my waste will be useful to another industry, then I will continue,” she added.
She also called for the establishment of a research or data centre to create awareness on how players in the agric value chain could process the waste to use for other industries.
She said some people might genuinely not know that the waste could be a resourceful tool, hence creating awareness could drive that.
“I think government cannot do everything but there should be creation of awareness on the benefits of these things. If there is a research centre or publication that sensitises people to what the waste can be used for, they will begin to use it.”
“If that information is readily available and I am not employed, I can collect them and use it to manufacture something,” she said.
Women in agribusiness
Ms Quarshie also explained that the Women in Agribusiness platform was created to bring together women in the value chain to take advantage of opportunities that were available.
“We realised that there was the need to have a group for women in agribusiness. There are lots of business opportunities and discussions for women in general, including agric so this is to create an avenue to organise themselves to access funds and grants,” she said. GB