Agric Dev’t High On Gov’t Agenda

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto speaking at the vetting

The Minster-designate for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on Tuesday told the Appointments Committee of Parliament that the government would be seeking private partnership in the construction of dug-out wells in many communities of the North.

This is intended to give practical meaning to Government’s “one village, one dam” policy for the three Northern regions.

He said the government will be helping with technology and assist other communities along the White and Black Volta to build those time-tested dams to help all-year round farming activities in the North since the North has a huge potential for large-scale production of food crops such as yam, maize, sorghum and millet and livestock.

He said the new NPP administration, which has been office for just two weeks, has already wooed private investors from America and South Africa, who have come to inspect the vast agricultural lands in the Afram Plains and the Kintampo area and have expressed their readiness and willingness to invest in those areas, especially in the area of food and livestock productions

Dr Afriyie Akoto, who appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Tuesday, said that the cereal production target of the NPP government for this year is 540,000 tonnes for maize, 337,500 tonnes for rice, 64,800 tonnes for sorghum and 36,000 tonnes for soyabeans, adding that the NPP government is determined to drastically reduce food imports in the country.

“We are going to go back to the past and ask everybody to be doing backyard gardens and also for identifiable groups to engage in farming. Institutions such as schools and prisons should go into farming. Teachers, doctors, MPs must all involve themselves in farming so that food production would be boosted in the country,” he said.

According to the Minister-designate, the ministry will also revitalize all state farms across the country and strengthen them to help the country to become food sufficient.

Cocoa production

Touching on cocoa production, which is the mainstay of the economy, the Food and Agriculture Minister-designate, told the committee that NPP government will implement all the necessary measures to increase cocoa production in the country

He said the Akufo-Addo government will replicate the policies adopted by the previous Kufuor administration to help increase cocoa production to a record level of 1,000,000 tonnes in 2011, stressing that the mass spraying exercise would be done to benefit all cocoa farmers while pesticides and insecticides would also be distributed to all farmers without discrimination.

Price

He gave the assurance that the government will also increase commensurately cocoa produce price to encourage cocoa farmers to expand their farms instead of selling their farms to small scale miners.

Cashew & cotton

He also told the Appointments Committee that the present government had identified cashew and cotton as two important cash crops to help boost the economy of the country.

He said that the government was going to invest a lot in the production of these two crops.

According to him, when this was done, the economy of the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions where these major crops do well would be transformed significantly and jobs would also be created.

Poultry & livestock

He said his ministry will give the necessary assistance to poultry farmers and livestock farmers to expand their farms in order to increase the production of poultry and meat in the country and even export some to the neighbouring countries

Processing

He said the government will also encourage value addition to food and cash crops by helping to set up a lot of processing factories.

He said the present government will also ensure that the Plant Breeders Bill is enforced to the letter to help boost the cultivation of improved varieties of food crops in the country.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

 

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