Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto (right) – Minister for Food and Agriculture
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has made a strong case for a $105 million from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) under the United Nations for the implementation of the Ghanaian Government’s agricultural flagship programme Planting for Food and Jobs(PFJ).
The facility is under Cycle two of the Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) which is meant to support and improve the capacity of smallholder farmers in the country under the Government’s flagship programmes.
The request follows a successful completion of Phase One of the programme in 2019, which saw the disbursement of over 60% of the funds to beneficiary farmers within the spate of six months under a new team put in place by his office to ensure the implementation of the programme.
Following this feat, Dr. Afriyie Akoto says his Ministry is seeking the immediate release of $30 million to consolidate the gains made in 2019, plus additional $75 million for long term investment.
The Minister, who made the request during a meeting with the President of IFAD, Gilbert Houngbo, at the just ended 43rd Session of the Governing Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO-UN) said the timely release of the facility would not only help Ghana consolidates gains made under PFJ over the last three years, but would also help meet the demand of over 50,000 smallholder farmers who could not be supported last year.
Dr. Akoto Afriyie pointed out that before the advent of the current administration, the GASIP Fund had recorded paltry 10% fund disbursement in 4 years, a development which he said, did not inure to the benefit of potential farmers in the country.
The Minister however noted that under the Government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme, the GASIP project recorded tremendous success.
Between June to December 2019, close to 50,000 smallholder farmers benefitted from inputs subsidy, capacity building, roads infrastructure amongst others, whilst 53 Value Chain Drivers were also engaged under the programme in August.
Additionally, 18,000 youth and women, as well as 1,200 Farmer-Based Organizations (FBOs) were also enlisted on the programme.
According to the appraisal document released by GASIP, 1,300 farmers and associations benefited from climate resilient practices whilst the Ministry, as part of the programme also collaborated with other institutions such as Ghana Meteorological Agency , NESTLE, GIZ on crosscutting issues such as climate change and gender considerations.
Vision for Cycle Two
The Minister noted that the second phase of the programme would involve meeting the demand of over 50,000 smallholder farmers across the country whilst mainstreaming and integrating climate change resilience in all programme activities.
“We are anticipating that under the Phase II of this programme about 50,000 direct jobs would be created with the inclusion of the tree crop and poultry value chains” he said, stressing that this would help address the increasing number of youth and women interested in tree crops farming under the PERD programme and livestock under the Rearing for Food and Jobs initiative.
Meanwhile, Mr. Houngbo has expressed satisfaction with the level of progress achieved in Ghana’s agricultural sector.
According to him, the remarkable successes achieved by Government of Ghana over the last three years in the agriculture sector must be commended adding that his outfit would continue to partner with Ghana to sustain and improve on the gains.
BY Melvin Tarlue