Business News of Sunday, 3 December 2017
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the government is fast-tracking efforts to modernise agriculture to enhance food security, improve rural livelihoods and create wealth for the people.
He said agricultural modernisation and improved production efficiency were some key prescriptions for tackling the challenges of the agricultural sector, which he described as vital in unlocking national development and economic growth.
The President was addressing the 33rd National Farmers Day in Kumasi on Friday, held on the theme: “Farming for Food and Jobs.”
More than 70 farmers were honoured for their outstanding contributions to agricultural development.
Mr Philip Kwaku Agyeman, a 50-year-old farmer from the Dormaa West District in the Brong Ahafo Region, was adjudged the 2017 National Best Farmer. For his prize, he took home a cheque for $100,000 from the ADB Bank.
In line with the efforts to modernise agriculture and to ensure all-year-round farming, the President said preliminary works were ongoing for the full operation of the government’s one-village, one-dam agriculture development agenda, while 320 small dams and dugout sites in 64 districts in the northern part of the country had been earmarked for development.
According to the President, 192 of similar sites would be evaluated in 2018 for development, while a provisional list of 51 dams in the Volta, Greater Accra and Central regions had been submitted to be considered for rehabilitation.
President Akufo-Addo said a water transmission project to distribute water from the Oti River, the Black Volta and White Volta to communities for productive cultivation would commence next year to bring up to 90,000 hectares of land under irrigation.
He added that implementation of an agricultural programme would potentially also bring about 1,732 hectares of land under irrigation through solar pumping from rivers, sinking of boreholes, rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes and construction of new ones.
Touching on various interventions made by the government which had started yielding results, the President said although the outcomes were encouraging, the government would not rest on its laurels because a lot more needed to be done.
Some of those interventions included support under the flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, which involved the distribution of improved seeds, improved extension services, acquisition of agricultural machinery and equipment from Brazil under the More Food International Programme.
He said majority of those equipment were being used in diverse ways along the agricultural value chains, including land preparation, seeding, crop protection, harvesting and primary processing.
President Akufo-Addo was elated that farmers were being trained to acquire knowledge and skills to operate those equipment, with the establishment of two agriculture mechanisation centres at Adidome and Wenchi to follow a strict maintenance regime to prolong the lifespan of the machines.
Underscoring the need for people to thank farmers if they had food to eat, President Akufo-Addo reassured the farmers that the government would work assiduously through the provision of technical and other support systems to develop a sustainable, sound and vibrant agricultural sector that would enhance the performance of all agricultural commodity value chain actors.
He called for the support of the country’s development partners, stakeholders, financial institutions and value chain actors to enable the government to realise the goal of transforming the agricultural sector.
The President expressed the view that the drive of the key policies at attaining the set objectives was the promotion of agribusiness and placing emphasis on agricultural value chain development in partnership with the private sector.
President Akufo-Addo also noted that the collaboration with the private sector was a way of transforming the agriculture in the country from mainly subsistence to business-centred to create wealth for the farmers and expand the economy.
He described the country as having abundant resources, including land, with the capacity to feed its people, generate jobs and create wealth and prosperity, through the modernisation of agriculture and a change in attitude towards farming.
The President, however, opined that recent development had culminated in allowing agriculture to fall into almost stagnation in the last ten years, a situation which made some people to attribute it to “Dutch Disease.”
He attributed the problems to post-harvest losses, low productivity, weak links with industry, low application of technology, insufficient agro-financing, land tenure issues and weaknesses along the agriculture value chain.
“We can, and we should overcome these problems, if we keep our focus, ensure efficient and effective implementation of policies and programmes, and rally fully behind the government to give agriculture the decisive impulse it needs to take its pride of place once again,” he said.