Ghana?s Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur on Tuesday launched the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) initiated by the government to reduce poverty and improve living conditions in rural areas.

REP seeks to provide business support services to micro and small enterprises (MSE) that generate growth, employment and profit in 161rural districts across the country with the objective to improve livelihoods and incomes of the rural poor as well as strengthen the linkages between agriculture, industry and service sectors of the economy

The $192.89 million programme is being funded by the government, which is providing about $74 million,the International Fund for Agricultural Development,  $31.78 million and the African Development Bank, $76.52 million.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur said the introduction of the REP ?Is a demonstration of the commitment of the government to promoting sustainable policies aimed at reducing poverty in the country.?

The Vice President said the REP was an important step in accelerating the Shared Growth Agenda and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals adding, ?It is only by growing our local economies and integrating them into the national economy that we can ensure equitable development.?

He said the establishment of Business Advisory Centers and Rural Technology facilities to provide consultancy and extension services to entrepreneurs would facilitate the modernization of agriculture, the addition of value to the harvest, minimization of post-harvest losses and increase the production of other goods and services.

He called on all beneficiary assemblies to fully embrace the REP to help reduce poverty by increasing the number of MSEs thereby create jobs and contribute to increase rural incomes.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minister for Trade and Industry, said the REP started as a project in 1995 and had been scaled-up over the years because of increasing successes recorded and that by the end of 2012, the project trained about 27,000 entrepreneurs and created over 55,000 jobs.

He said this explained its expansion into the REP, and scaled-up to cover 161 districts across the country.

Mr Bede Ziedeng, the Northern Regional Minister, said he was optimistic that the introduction of the REP would help reduce the incidence of the migration of young girls from the north to the south to engage in menial jobs.

Mr Atta Antwi, National Director of REP, expressed the readiness of his outfit to ensure the successful implementation of the programme.

Yoo-Naa, Abukari Mahama, Chief of Savelugu commended the government for taking steps to improve infrastructure at the Tamale Airport to make it an international airport.

Yoo-Naa Mahama presented a smock, 100 tubers of yam and a ram to the Vice President.

As part of the launch, 100 clients of REP drawn from the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Brong Ahafo regions exhibited products such as batik tie and dye, leather works, agro products amongst others.

The clients? exhibitions and trade shows are platforms provided by REP for entrepreneurs to market their products outside their localities.

Source: GNA


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