Business News of Wednesday, 22 February 2017
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed his government’s resolve to make the agricultural sector attractive to encourage the youth to go into farming.
In line with that objective, he said a national campaign, dubbed: “Planting for food and jobs”, would be launched to stimulate that activity.
Delivering his maiden State of the Nation Address to Parliament yesterday, the President announced that the government had secured 125 million Canadian dollars to support the initiative.
According to him, district assemblies would be tasked to identify and register progressive farmers in each of the 216 districts.
“This campaign will be anchored on the pillars that will transform agriculture, such as the provision of improved seeds, the supply of fertiliser, the provision of dedicated extension services, a marketing strategy and the use of e-Agriculture,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo told Parliament that the starting point in turning round the fortunes of the country was through agriculture, noting, however, that “unfortunately, the state of agriculture in our country right now is not good”.
“Farmers are left on their own. It is not surprising, therefore, that food prices are high and we are having to import almost everything we eat, including vegetables from our Sahelian neighbours. And, yet, agriculture provides the best opportunity to use modern methods to change the lives of many within the shortest possible time,” he stated.
The President underscored the need to irrigate lands and equip farmers with the skills needed to make farming a well-paying business.
He noted that for too long, farmers had been left to cope by themselves, without the necessary support from successive governments.
He indicated the government’s resolve to embark on a programme to make water available for all-year farming under its one-village, one-dam policy.
“It is a programme that I expect will rapidly get the support of the population to help ensure food security in our country,” President Akufo-Addo added.
He alluded to the three regions in the north in particular, which he said would benefit from the programme to help prevent young girls from migrating to the southern sector for menial jobs.
“I look forward to an increase in public investment in agriculture, starting from the first budget of my government. We must reverse the unfortunate trend of the past eight years, which saw a regular decrease in public investment in the sector that provides a living for majority of our people,” he said.
On food processing, President Akufo-Addo noted that not only would it help cut down on crop wastage but also provide more jobs and expand farming businesses.
“Food processing will also save time in the preparation and cooking of our local foods, and there will be better control on the hygiene in the process. Mr Speaker, I look forward to an exciting time in the agricultural sector,” the President added.