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Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto
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Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Agriculture, has advised Ghanaian maize farmers to buy and plant improved seeds in order to increase their yield.

He said Ghanaian maize farmers must embrace improved seeds, fertilizers, extension and marketing services to provide food security in the country.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised yesterday in Accra by Graphic Business, supported by Stanbic Bank on how to improve the country’s agriculture sector and achieve food security, Dr Afriyie Akoto said the old traditional methods of farming had robbed many Ghanaian farmers of the much-desired yields over the years.

He said that government launched the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ policy, which targets 200,000 farmers for the pilot project.

He said the number of farmers will rise to 500,000 next year.

“We had to cross the border to Burkina Faso, a semi-desert country, to bring seeds. And even getting the seeds from that country was also another problem.

“In 2007, Ghana spent $345 million on the import of some eight food items. In 2015, the figure grew to $2.2 billion, of which $1.1 billion was spent on rice importation.”

The minister said that only 11 percent of maize farmers in Ghana use improved seeds, adding that nearly 90 percent of maize farmers still use old seeds, producing less than a ton of maize per hectare.

“With the open pollinated, between 3 and 5 tons or more per hectare is harvested.”

Giving reasons for this, Dr Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Agriculture, said the link between the research findings of Ghana’s academic institutions and the farmers in the food production areas was non-existent.

Train human resource

He said of the 4,400 agriculture extension officers the country had in the past, only 2,200 were left, adding that 80 percent of the current extension officers were preparing to go on pension in the next two years.

He therefore appealed to every Ghanaian to plant something in his or her backyard.

Dr Hassan Yakubu, a former deputy Minister of Agriculture, in a submission, said it was imperative to embrace science as a compelling condition for improving the country’s agriculture.

He called on government to retool the agriculture colleges and produce informed agriculture extension officers.

“There is no economy in the world that has achieved food and nutrition security without engaging science.

“In 1900, it was the era of traditional farming. In the 1960s, it was mechanized farming, in the 1970s, it was the era of the great revolution and in the 2000s, biotechnology is the order of the day.”

Dr Abu Sakara, a former presidential aspirant, also touched on the challenges of Ghana’s agriculture sector, saying it lacked financial investment, human resources, productivity and required markets for its produce.

“If we have all these challenges and have recommendations, what we lack now is effective implementation. We should stop practising survival agriculture and stick to the thriving one.”
Source: Daily Guide

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