Deputy Minister-designate for Local Government and Rural Development has described agriculture as the greatest tool that can best propel the country’s socio-economic development.
Augustine Collins Ntim says the benefits from a vibrant Agric sector are enormous as it produces benefits that trickle down to even the most remote part of the country.
The Member of Parliament for Offinso North Constituency is, therefore promising to push for the use of agriculture as the central tool for the development of local and rural areas when he takes office.
“I have already identified 60 districts within the transitional zone that have the potential to support cashew production, and in the Northern region – cotton, in other areas – citrus, so we will come up with a comprehensive programme for the DCEs and MCEs to adopt. We are thinking of creating employment, revamping the agric sector at the local level, and developing the economic potential of every district,” he explained.
Mr. Ntim says the Offinso North District is one area where agriculture has transformed the local economy for the better, which should be expanded.
In the Offinso North Constituency, the MP says an ‘Initiative for Cashew Production’ is supporting 20,000 farmers to cultivate 200,000 acres of plantation over the next five years. Under the initiative which is supported by USAID, farmers are supplied with inputs to plant the cashew plants on their farms so they earn additional money from that.
Mr. Ntim says he will push for the replication of the concept in different areas of the country as Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development.
Farmers will be encouraged to develop plantations of various cash crops including cocoa, oil palm, citrus and cashew across the country from which they can generate additional sources of income.
“The focus is to empower individual farmers so that when they are cultivating their maize, tomato and other crops, they will inter crop it with various cash crops like cashew, oil palm, so that at the end of the farming season, they will not only have returns on the food crops but also the cash crops,” he explained.
He says this will ensure sustainable local interventions to address issues of unemployment as the presence of such plantations will also spur on the establishment of factories to take advantage of the bumper harvest of crops.
“We are positioning ourselves for the one district one factory policy. So we are coming out with an intervention that will attract a strategic investor that will serve as an off taker that will buy the cashew nuts, buy the inputs and support the farmers,” he explained.