General News of Thursday, 27 July 2017
Contrary to widespread speculation about the impact of the fall army invasion, the Agric Minister, Dr Afriyie Akoto has reassured Ghanaians that the phenomenon has been dealt with.
He disclosed that the impact of the invasion is not as dire as it has been reported.
He noted that out of the total hectares of farmlands that were affected, a minute percentage had been completely destroyed by the invasion.
“The total hectares affected by the army worm came to 112,812 hectares. That is what was affected. There is a difference between affected and destroyed and this is where a lot of people were confused. The total number destroyed was only 14,430 hectares. It is not even up to 2% of the total area under maize alone never mind the total area under all crops in Ghana, so there is a huge exaggeration of the total impact of the army worm invasion” he observed
The Minister was speaking on the floor of Parliament when he was called to answer urgent question filed by Asunafo South, Eric Opoku on the status of the Planting for Food and Jobs.
He explained that the invasion this year was as a result of poor handling of the situation when it happened last year.
The fall army worm is of American origin and was first recorded in the country in 2016. The Minister asserted that the effort put in by this government has ensured a timely containment of the situation
He further said that the country, based on the measures put in place will never witness such an invasion again.
“I would like to use this opportunity to assure that nation that the fall army worm has been defeated by the government, totally defeated. The impression being created by some people that the armyworm is consuming planting for food and jobs is not correct, it’s wrong”
“This is why in anticipation of the surpluses we are expecting, we are making frantic efforts to ensure that not one single grain or bean is affected because of lack of markets” he detailed
The fall armyworm invasion was one of five challenges the Minister enumerated as hindering the progress of the planting for food and jobs initiated.
Responding to the Bunkprugu MP, Ras Mubarak, on the expected number of jobs to be created, the Minister emphasised the creation of about 750,000 jobs around the 215 districts that the operation is being carried out.
He noted that this premised on the Ministry meeting all the targets it has set as part of the implementation plan of this project.
He also assured that government was also going to employ lift the ban on employment of extension officers stating that the previous administration for 6years failed to employ even a single extension officer.
Tied to this, he also pointed out that government had posted some National Service Persons to fill the gap created by the non-existence of extension officers.
status of project
The Minister remarked that a proposal has been sent to the Economic Management Team for approval as part of ensuring the success of the project.
He said if approved, the proposal will see five key state institutions supplied goods and foodstuff from the initiative.
He noted that government was doing all it can to ensure a ready market for the produce.
To this end, the intention of building a warehouse in all districts was on course. He revealed that the Ministry in partnership with Cocobod was taking stock of abandoned cocoa warehouses across the country.
These he noted will be serviced and put in good shape and used as warehouses to help government prioritise which specific districts need a new warehouse. So far close to 200 of these abandoned warehouses have been identified.
The Planting for Food and Jobs programme is expected to increase the production of maize by 30 per cent; rice by 49 per cent; soybean by 25 per cent; and sorghum by 28 per cent from current production levels according to the President.