The European Union (EU) has pledged 160 million Euros to support Ghana’s development cooperation budget for new programmes in the agriculture sector, hailing the Government’s renewed interest to make agriculture the engine of prosperity.

The EU would also launch a 35 million-Euro Market Oriented Agricultural Programme, in April, this year as part of efforts to expand the sector.

Ambassador William Hanna, the Head of the European Union in Ghana, said Ghana’s renewed focus in agriculture was highly welcomed.

Hanna expressed the EU’s Commitment to forge new partnerships with Ghana in line with the Ghana’s vision and Europe’s reforms after Brexit, saying it was significant that both entities were marking their 60th anniversaries.

He announced additionally that 50 million Euros had been earmarked by the EU to support programmes aimed at the improvement of future programmes in Public Financial Management and tackling corruption.

Highlighting the importance of agriculture to Ghana’s economic growth, Hanna said there was, however, the need to look at ways of working together to add value in the sector, as well as creating new employment opportunities.

At the same time, he said, efforts should be made at achieving sustainable type of agriculture, which protected the land from the effect of climate change.

He emphasised the urgent need to find ways of working together to protect Ghana’s forests for future generations.

He said although the country was the first to sign the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade- voluntary partnership agreement, it had now fallen behind Indonesia, which was the first country to issue licenses.

On improving the management of the public purse, Hanna said the EU welcomed the new Government’s commitments to improve public financial management and tackle corruption and pledged to support such efforts.

He, however, wondered whether the EU could continue to provide budget assistance, when it seemed that practically all the targets of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme were not met.

He said with the Ghana’s aspiration to a future beyond Aid, was commendable and the assurance that Europe would continue to be Ghana’s biggest trading partner and investor.

“The EU cooperation in Ghana, the Delegation and its Member States, have already started reflecting on Ghana after Aid,” he said, adding that, “We also have to adapt our cooperation to the new Sustainable Development Goals.”

He said the next EU Africa Summit would take place in November this year in Abidjan, under the theme: “Jobs and Youth,” and over the coming months the EU would be engaging in discussions on all these questions with civil society, and with the Government and with young people.