The past year, which was the first year of the present administration, also saw a significant increase in government’s investment in the sector, resulting in the provision of many facilities and initiatives that contributed to the growth in production towards achieving food security.
On top of the achievements were a remarkable 29 per cent increase in rice production and five per cent increase in maize production, while sorghum and millet production went up by 20 per cent each. Groundnuts and cowpea also recorded a three per cent growth rate each.
According to national production records for 2009 made available to the Times, 12 million tonnes of cassava, six million tonnes of yams, 1.5 million tonnes of cocoyam and 3.6 million tonnes of plantain were produced throughout the country in the past year due to the various incentives made available by the government.
As part of the incentives, some 17,000 fanners were given starter-packs worth $230 each in the form of grants. The pack consisted of fertilizer, protective clothing, seeds and money for land preparation.
Currently, over $18million has been set aside to be given as loans to about 34,000 more farmers this year.
The increase in food production was facilitated by the revamping of the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YAP), which equipped about 12,439 fanners, including some 8,000 youths with inputs to cultivate 3,236 hectares of maize, 6,935 hectares of rice and 4,015 hectares of soybeans.
With regard to agricultural mechanisation, the records indicate that 85 Agric Mechanisation Centres were established in all 10 regions with tractors and 63 combined harvesters procured for distribution to fanners. As part of the government’s plan for 2010, each district will have at least one agricultural mechanisation centre and be equipped to cultivate a minimum of 241,050 hectares of land in the next 3 years.
To facilitate enhanced crop farming, 39 boreholes have also been drilled to irrigate 600 hectares of land in the Ashanti, Central and Greater Accra Regions to promote dry season farming.
The Block Farm component of the YAP has been implemented in six regions, providing jobs to over 47,000 youths.
Over 12,000 hectares of land have been cultivated under the Block Farm concept, while 197,000 metric tonnes of farm produce is expected from the 12,000 hectares, with 160,000 metric tons coming from maize to boost the national buffer stock this year.
This year also, the Youth in Livestock Programme, according to the government, would be implemented with 12,000 youths expected to be trained in livestock management. Under the programme each beneficiary is expected to receive a package of equipment, housing breeding stocks and allowances that will be repayable over a period.
With the Youth in Fisheries Development Programme, 3,265 youths in 45 districts are to be selected from seven high aquaculture potential regions and supported to construct fish ponds, develop cage culture and produce fingerlings.
The rehabilitation of irrigation facilities across the country which started in earnest at the beginning of last year, are at various stages of completion and is aimed at reducing the effects of unreliable rainfall and to increase employment opportunities in the dry season.
The Irrigation Project is projected to’ result in the production of about 33,000 metric tons of rice, 6,000 metric tons of maize, 56,775 metric tons of vegetables and 45,000 metric tons of fodder this year.
Over 22,000 unskilled labour would be directly employed over a three year period starting in 2010 on the irrigated lands.
For instance, work on the second phase of the Tono Irrigation Project and the 72 breached dams earmarked for rehabilitation are expected to be completed this year, while the Yea Irrigation Scheme and 30 dams in the Greater Accra and Volta regions would be rehabilitated this year.