General News of Sunday, 30 July 2017
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto on Thursday told parliament that the government has so far spent GH¢157,023,174.00 on its ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme in the southern sector and the three northern regions.
He said out of the amount, GH¢24,963,981.00 has been spent on improved seeds, especially for the production of maize, rice, soyabean, sorghum, tomato, onion and pepper, while GH¢132,059,193.00 has been spent on fertilizer and haulage or distribution of fertilizer to the farmers.
He said so far, 188,338 farmers and potential farmers have been registered under the scheme, out of the targeted 750,000 opportunities to be provided for the prospective farmers, particularly the youth.
He disclosed that this year the ministry’s target is to register 200.000 farmers.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who was responding to a question filed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South, Eric Opoku, on the status of the programme and expenditure so far made, said that the government plans to inject about GH¢650 million into the programme, which will eventually rake in GH¢1.3 billion for the nation.
The minister said the campaign or programme has five main areas of intervention which are the provision of improved seeds, provision of fertilizer, provision of extension services, marketing and e-agriculture platform.
“Under the campaign, selected farmers are supported with farm inputs such as improved seeds of the targeted crops, fertilizers and extension services directly from the ministry, whilst other pillars are to be implemented with the private sector,” the minister explained.
He said the aim of the government is to use the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme to transform the agricultural sector; and this would be done by increasing productivity of the farm resources centred on small holding activities, to provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth and to provide raw materials for the industrial sector.
According to him, it is not true that the fertilizers being given to the farmers are being smuggled out of the country as some members of the opposition NDC are claming, stressing that the government would ensure that the programme succeeds to boost food sufficiency and sustainability of raw material supply.