President Akufo-Addo says evidence abounds that the agricultural sector is receiving unprecedented support through massive investment aimed at transforming and modernizing the sector.
According to President Akufo-Addo, since assuming office, his government has left no one in doubt about the importance of agriculture as one of the cogs for accelerating economic growth.
“It is also important to put on record that Ghana’s agriculture was in a state of decline when I became President of the Republic. Prior to 2017, the performance of the sector had been erratic, recording a growth rate of 0.8% in 2011, one of the lowest in modern times,” he said.
This growth pattern, the President explained, was a reflection of a lack of prioritization and support for the agricultural sector by the previous Government, with the neglect of agriculture finding expression in low farm yields, high post-harvest losses, low level of mechanization, poorly motivated and low numbers of extension officers, largely unavailable marketing infrastructure, weak linkages to other sectors, and a general lack of access to Agric financing.
Having effectively diagnosed the problems of the sector, President Akufo-Addo noted that the launch of the Programme for “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ), in April 2017, strongly signaled government’s determination to reverse the flagging fortunes of the agricultural sector.
“Consequently, Planting for Food and Jobs focused on improving the yields of farmers, guaranteeing access to markets, reducing post-harvest losses and enhancing the availability of extension services. Nearly two years into its implementation, I can confidently report that very positive results have been achieved,” he added.
He continued, “In particular, the distribution of farm inputs to farmers, a major component of the programme, has worked very well. The provision of improved seeds and subsidized fertilizer has largely accounted for high farm yields and impressive growth of the agriculture sector of 8.4% at the end of 2017, the first pilot year of the PFJ.”
With 577,000 farmers signing onto the programme in 2018, he stated that the projections are looking even much better with higher anticipated levels of success, given the intervention and expansion made in the programme.
Towards ensuring self-sufficiency in food production, Government has undertaken a number of measures including advanced arrangement put in place to import farm machinery worth two hundred and sixteen million dollars ($216 million) in 2019, and the construction of eighty (80) new warehouses across the country, each with a capacity of one thousand (1,000) metric tonnes.
Additionally, the construction and rehabilitation of various dams and dugouts to increase crop production and ensure all-year-round farming has begun, with significant improvement to markets with the licensing of over a thousand (1,000) Buying Companies (LBCs) by the National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO).
Government, according to President Akufo-Addo, has forfeited Government’s share of the FOB price as part of efforts to protect cocoa farmers from world market shocks, introduced, this year, the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) as a module under the PFJ, and will, next year, introduce the Rearing for Food and Jobs, as another module of PFJ in 2019.
The President also indicated that 2,700 Agric Extension officers have been recruited, 8,000 graduates recruited for the Feed Ghana module of the NABCO programme, with 216 pickup vehicles and 3,000 motorbikes distributed to extension officers and District Directors of Agriculture.
Government, President Akufo-Addo, added is constructing feeder roads to food producing areas, based on consultations between the Minister for Roads and Highways and Minister for Agriculture, and is also upgrading the inspection facility at the Kotoka International Airport, and other exit points to facilitate inspection procedures in relation to horticultural export commodities.
With the implementation of the “Aquaculture for Food and Jobs” (AFJ) programme in 2019 to complement the ongoing “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ) initiative, the President noted that three public hatcheries at Ashaiman, Kona Odumase and Vea have been rehabilitated to increase fingerling production to meet the demand of fish farm.