The Veterinary Services in the Upper East Region, have started distributing sheep, cockerels and guinea fowls under the Rearing for Food and Jobs prograamme (RFJ), to farmers in the region.
The total package of the improved breed of animals are, 2000 sheep, Cockerels,2500, and guinea fowls, 3000, to be given to farmers in five districts in the Region on pilot basis.
The districts are the Nabdam, Kassena Nankana Municipality, Kassena Nankana West, Bongo and Bawku West.
Each district would be given 400 sheep and 500 Cockerels while the guinea fowls would be bred by a few farmers for distribution to others at 50 per cent reduced cost.
Ms Esther Agumah, the Regional Livestock Officer, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga, said each beneficiary farmer was being given nine female and one male sheep while others would receive 10 Cockerels each.
She said the pilot programme started in the Nabdam District where 400 sheep were given to 40 farmers and assured all the farmers that they would get their fair share in due course.
Spelling out the modalities, she said, the project targeted women and the youth and recoveries of the offspring of the sheep would be made in two years where the young ones would be passed on to other beneficiaries.
In terms of healthcare of the livestock, the Regional Livestock Officer, said small holder farmers had been given sensitization on getting good veterinary services for the animals.
Mr Francis Ennor, the Regional Director of MoFA reemphasized that women and youth were the key target of the programme and urged all beneficiaries to take animal production serious as it was a more lucrative business than core farming.
He urged the farmers to show interest in the animals’ movement, feeding and shelter and said if the beneficiaries consciously did that well, it would increase their income.
He said the livestock being distributed to the five districts was the tip of the ice berg, since government had bigger plans to ensure that the five year programme brought hope to farmers.
Mr Ennor said the programme was also in tune with the planting for food and jobs (PFJs) and when well managed could meet the Region’s meat requirement and serve the nation.
“If every household has about 10 sheep and taking very good care of them, it could generate other businesses such as the sale of animal feed which will also help reduce the annual bush burning suffered in the region,” he said.
The five-year Rearing For Food and Jobs programme aims at increasing domestic livestock production and reducing the meat deficit in the country.
He said survey reports indicated that Ghana produced less than 30 per cent of the meat consumed with 70 per cent imported representing 240,000 metric tonnes, costing the country USD 375 million annually.