World Bank and partners launch the Grass is Greener initiative to reduce poverty and create wealth

Accra, September 4, 2015 – The Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), an independent agency for coordinating a comprehensive development agenda for the northern savannah ecological zone in Ghana, and the World Bank Ghana Office, in collaboration with the Government of Ghana have launched ‘The Grass is Greener’ initiative in a ceremony at the World Bank office in Accra.  The initiative aims at advancing poverty reduction and wealth creation in the northern part of the country. Also involved in this initiative are the Ministry of Culture and Creative Arts and the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre.

Batakari on display at the exhibition

Batakari on display at the exhibition

In his welcome remark, the Country Director of the World Bank, in charge of Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Henry Godfrey Rupiny Kerali, stressed on the need for Ghana to recognize and tap into its potential resources on the savanna belt, noting that “there is no reason why Northern Ghana and for that matter, Ghana as a whole should be poor”.  He therefore challenged SADA and the Government of Ghana to work together with the World Bank and other development partners to ensure that there is practical and pragmatic development for the north of Ghana.

The ceremony was also used to officially declare Batakari, a woven traditional attire of the people in the northern part of Ghana, a National Friday wear to be worn on the first Friday of every month.

A sketch on Batakari being performed

A sketch on Batakari being performed

“The potential to be unlocked by promoting the Batakari is clearly evident. I can assure you that it is not only comfortable wearing, but is actually quite valuable. Growth in this industry can stimulate not only the cotton industry, but also the whole development of northern Ghana.” Mr. Rupiny Kerali.

In a keynote address made on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Kofi Nuhu expressed government’s gratitude to the World Bank and SADA for embarking on the initiative. He indicated the Ministry’s commitment in advancing the development of the Batakari as a national agenda.

“From our current national export strategy that has been drafted, garments and apparels are one of the key cornerstones of the policy; and Batakari, like any other garment, plays a key role. We want to see that we move Batakari from wearing it for traditional occasions, in our homes, offices, to something that we can package and export because we want to be a major garment and apparel manufacturing country”, he pointed out.

In his remarks, the CEO of SADA, Mr. Charles Abugri explained the motive of selecting the Batakari as “not a replacement of our (Ghanaians) entire cultural heritage in terms of fabric; [but] a celebration [that] also gives livelihood to hundreds and thousands of people”.

The Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Hon. Elizabeth Ofosu Adjare, opened an exhibition of Batakari and officially declared “the first Friday of every month, a Batakari wear”. She emphasized the importance of promoting the Batakari and encouraged young people in the northern part of Ghana to engage in the mass production and sale of Batakari and called on the general public to patronize.

‘The Grass is greener’ initiative encompasses a road show, starting in Accra with a month-long exhibition hosted in the office of the World Bank, Ghana. It will, thereafter, move throughout the country stopping at every regional capital to share insights and educate people on the SADA zone.