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Agric Sector To Get Boost Next Year To Improve Yields, Create Jobs   
 
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16-Nov-2017  
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Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto — Minister of Food and Agriculture
 
 
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The government is to spend GH¢700 million on its agriculture initiative, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFAJ) programme in 2018 to help empower over 500,000 farmers to increase food production and create more jobs for the youth.

The government’s agriculture Marshall Plan is aimed at revamping the agriculture sector to lead efforts towards the economic transformation of the country.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, announced this when he presented the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to Parliament on Wednesday. The budget is on the theme: “Putting Ghana Back to Work.”

Productivity

According to the minister, “A total of 2,700 extension agents will be recruited to support the PFAJ increase the production of selected crops for food security and job creation.”

He said under the agricultural transformation programmes, roads linking farms to urban centres would be constructed and refurbished, while storage facilities for farm produce would also be provided to attract private capital for large-scale agribusinesses.

Another key feature of the plan includes the removal of duties on agro-processing and manufacturing equipment and machinery, as well as the implementation of a grant funding facility for agribusiness start-ups.

The agriculture sector has, over the years, recorded low growth largely due to challenges such as ineffective policies, inadequate access to funding by stakeholders in the agriculture value chain, lack of machinery, technological expertise, storage facilities, transportation and ready market for farm produce.

Initiative

Mr Ofori-Atta further indicated that as part of the PFAJ programme, 2,160 university graduates had been recruited, while 1,070 youth had registered. It has also provided extension services to farmers across the country.

He noted that currently, 201,000 farmers had also been registered. In addition, 121,000 metric tonnes (MT) of subsidised fertilisers and 4,454.98 MT of subsidised seeds of cereal, legumes and vegetables had been distributed to beneficiary farmers.

“The programme also registered suppliers to distribute farm produce to public institutions, including the School Feeding Programme, the Free Senior High School Policy, Prisons, Defence and Police, among others, to ensure availability of quality food in a timely manner in these institutions,” the minister added.

He added that the National Buffer Stock Company was revitalised to procure, store and distribute the outputs from the PFAJ and other programmes of the ministry. The Buffer Stock, in collaboration with the Agricultural Development Bank, registered 553 licensed buying companies.

Mechanisation

According to the 2018 budget, a total of 220 tractors and accessories, comprising 141 maize shellers and 77 multi-crop threshers were distributed to farmers and service providers to promote agricultural mechanisation in 2017.

In furtherance to this, the government will, under the PFAJ programme, distribute assorted farm equipment, including 200 tractors and matching implements, 1,000 power tillers and walking tractors to farmers in 2018.

Irrigation

As part of the government’s one-village, one-dam initiative, a total of 192 small dams and dugouts were identified in 64 districts for development in 2017.

In 2018, the government will continue to facilitate and promote double cropping by constructing 50 small dams and dugouts. It will also make available additional 147 hectares (ha) of irrigable land for crop production.

In addition, 30 pumping schemes and 100 boreholes will be developed and a feasibility study conducted for water transmission lines in Northern Ghana.

Mr Ofori-Atta added that the invasion of the Fall Army Worm (FAW) was successfully managed through the distribution of chemicals to farmers, recruitment of spraying gangs and monitoring and surveillance.

The intervention, he said, recovered 123,232 ha of farmlands out of the 137,479 ha affected.

“A strategic stock of insecticide and other logistics will be built to ensure ready availability of chemicals during outbreaks, as well as intensification of monitoring and surveillance,” the minister further stated.

Livestock

To improve meat production and livelihood of livestock farmers in the country, 2,000 livestock farmers will be supported with 70,000 small ruminants (sheep and goats) in 2018.

The sector ministry will also support six national livestock breeding stations to produce and distribute 200 cross-bred heifers, 1,700 improved pigs and 100,000 cockerels.

Performance

Agriculture contribution to GDP was estimated at 18.5 per cent in 2017 against 18.9 per cent in 2016. The services sector dominated in the overall output with the figure at 55.9 per cent in 2017, a marginal decline from 56.8 per cent registered in 2016.

According to the minister, agriculture recorded a growth rate of 4.3 per cent in 2017, three per cent in 2016 and 2.8 per cent in 2015.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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