Business News of Monday, 5 February 2018
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, has revealed the number of jobs his ministry has been able to create since the implementation of President Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government’s ‘Planting for food and jobs’ (PFJ) programme.
The programme was launched in April 2017 at Goaso by the president to among other goals, ensure adequate food supply, provide the raw material base for the country’s industrialization drive and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth in the agric sector.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on Friday, Dr Afriyie-Akoto said, “I am happy to report that by our conservative estimates, a total of 745,000 jobs were created mainly in the rural economy during the period under review.”
The initial target was to create 750,000 jobs along the various commodity value chain.
Other areas where jobs were created along the value chain, according to him, were input distribution and application, post-harvest handling of produce, primary processing and transportation, handling and Warehousing as well as marketing.
Typically in Ghana, Dr Afriyie-Akoto explained, one farmer cultivates one hectare (2.5 acres) of food crops which requires two farm hands for the entire farm operations (from planting to harvesting) and that in the year 2016 (a year before PFJ was implemented) a total of 134,000 MT of fertilizer were distributed to farmers. “In 2017, this figure rose to 296,000 MT, as a result of the implementation of the PFJ campaign,” he announced.
The additional 162,000 MT of fertilizer, the minister claimed, were applied at an average rate of 10 bags (50kg each) per hectare, bringing the total fertilised area to some 357,000 hectares in the 2017 planting season.
“Each hectare of the additional cultivated area required the services of two farm hands on full-time basis throughout the farming year. Hence, by applying these two farm hands per hectare for the fertilised area (357,000 hectares), a total of some 715,000 informal jobs were generated in the rural sector of the economy by the PFJ campaign,” he noted.
These other activities, he asserted, generated 27,000 jobs. In addition, the formal sector (extension services and farmer registration) created another 3,000 jobs. Hence, the total number of jobs created under the PFJ campaign in 2017 was 745,000 (715,000 plus 27,000 plus 3,000).
In the area of input, a total of 4,400 MT of certified seeds of maize, rice, sorghum, soya bean and vegetables were distributed in addition to the 296,000 MT of fertilizers.
The use of labour, improved seeds and fertilizers, combined with increased extension service delivery, was what he said resulted in the production of an additional 485,000 MT of maize; 179,000 MT of rice; and 45,200 MT of vegetables – with a total value of about GH¢1.2 billion.