Business News of Sunday, 30 July 2017
Government has initiated a key strategy intervention to cover cashew, shea, mango, citrus, cocoa, rubber and oil palm under its “Planting for Jobs and Investments” programme.
The programme, which is the second flagship programme of the government, is to complement the “Planting for Food and Jobs initiative and help boost investor confidence in the availability of raw material base to create significant job opportunities in the country”.
Under the programme, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAS) would be required to come out with an agricultural project initiative taking into consideration one or two of the identified cash crops with a budget that would support 10,000 to 20,000 farmers to cultivate an average of 10 acres of the crops within the next four years.
Mr Collins Ntim, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, made this known at the launch and sensitisation forum of the programme for the Upper West Region held in Wa on Wednesday.
He said all MMDAs are expected to submit their project proposals to the Ministry by the end of September and those proposals should be in alignment with the medium term development plans of the MMDAs and in consultation with Department of Agriculture.
The MMDAS would be required to establish seed banks in the electoral areas that would raise improved and high yielding varieties seedlings as approved for the district to be allocated to the farmers.
They would also be required to recruit 100 youth, in every district who would be trained to support the farmers to plant the seedlings.
Mr Ntim said it is envisaged that about two to three million farmers would be supported and registered, while biometric data base and global position system mapping on all the farmers and their farms and plantation would be established.
“This project seeks to position Ghana as a leading producer of cocoa and cashew in the world in the next four to 10 years”, he said.
The Deputy Local Government Minister said three million farmers would be mobilised into cooperatives and global position system mapping and data base of all the farmers would be established for the private sector to link up to establish the necessary value addition linkages.
He said every district would be equipped with a one stop centre that would spearhead government’s commercial, entrepreneurial and agribusiness initiatives through the MMDAs.
District Centre for Agriculture Commerce and Technology (DCACT) would be established to enhance government’s drive for industrial revolution through the various districts, with a mandate to promote agribusiness to facilitate an interface between the private and public sector at the district level.
The MMDAs would identify and develop two major food and cash crops and livestock into exportable products.
The MMDAs would also attract investment in Agro processing at the districts to add value to agricultural produce for domestic industrial use, implement government policy on agribusiness and sustainable agricultural value chain and establish and maintain an electronic data base on all commercial, entrepreneurial and agricultural initiatives.
Mr Ntim said major storage warehouse, district agriculture pension trust and district land banks for specific strategic investor and commodities exchange platforms through a geographic information software would be developed for easy efficient accessibility, attracting and stimulating business.
Dr Nurah Gyiele, Minister of State in charge of Food and Agriculture, said the selected crops had the potential to help address food security and enhance economic livelihoods of the people especially those in the north.
He said farmers always depended on rain fed agriculture to produce and when the rains failed, farmers are worst hit hence the need to consider alternatives such as cash crops to complement income levels.
He urged farmers to protect the shea from wanton destruction while they strived into cashew and mango production and guard against bushfires.
Mr Sulemana Alhassan, Upper West Region Minister, government pro-poor interventions would improve the living conditions and incomes of the people.
He said smuggling of fertilizers and other farm inputs were challenges which could affect the successful implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme and urged the security agencies, district assemblies and traditional authorities to develop strategies to curtail the act.