Government has announced plans to transform the country’s agriculture sector to end abject poverty among farmers in the country. Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, made this known yesterday in Accra during the Meet The Press series organized by the Ministry of Information. Dr. Akoto stressed that poverty in the sector was endemic during the erstwhile Mahama administration. He was optimistic the current government would effect a permanent change in the structure of the agriculture sector which would result in permanent changes in the structure of the country’s economy and improve the incomes of Ghanaian farmers.
The Minister stated emphatically that “we should be accelerating and not decelerating.” According to him, NPP’s objective is to reach double digit growth annually in the sector. He indicated that the Ministry hopes to achieve double digit growth of either 10 or 11 percent.
Dr. Akoto outlined nine key interventions by President Akufo-Addo to improve the sector. According to him, the current administration would focus on the flagship ‘Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), horticulture development, perennial crop development, cocoa development, livestock development, irrigation development, agricultural mechanization, agricultural financing and private sector investments.
Low Maize Price
The PFJ, he said, has brought about increase in food production to ensure food security, provision of raw materials for industries and food exports. He said the government has increased food production under the PFJ and resourced the National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) to boost production. According to him, NAFCO registered 1,303 licence buying companies in 2017. Using government procurement to support prices at the farm gate, a total of 1,750 metric tons of maize was supplied to senior high schools in the last quarter of the year under review, he added. He reiterated government’s assertion that it created about 745,000 jobs along the agricultural value chain in 2017 through the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme.
The Minister disclosed that the Ministry has entered into agreements with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other institutions to boost the supply of local seeds. In 2018, he noted, six seed processing centers shall be rehabilitated to ensure quality seed production. According to him, a total of 463 million seedlings are to be planted on 1.8 million hectares in the next five years under the PFJ.
He stated that government has made tremendous efforts to tackle the fall armyworm menace. The Minister pointed out that efforts are being made to improve irrigation systems in the country to enhance the production of livestock. He observed that rehabilitation of four folder banks (250 Ha each) at Kwahu Afram Plains North and South Districts are ongoing and that transhumance committees have been formed to oversee the establishment of grazing reserves at strategic locations.