The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has touted the achievements of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme, describing it as a vehicle towards making Ghana the food basket for West Africa.
He said, for instance, that from 1.72 million tonnes of maize produced in 2016, the figure currently stood at 3.43 million, while paddy rice production jumped from 688,000 tonnes in 2016 to 1.36 million this year.
Speaking on the theme: “Ghana becoming breadbasket of West Africa” when he took his turn at the Nation Building Updates series in Accra yesterday, Dr Akoto explained that rising food crop production levels had resulted in huge surpluses which were being exported to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Niger and Mali.
He said 505,000 tonnes of various food items had been exported to neighbouring countries between 2017 and 2020.
He said the current food production situation had given the indication that Ghana was on the pathway to becoming the breadbasket for West Africa.
Dr Akoto said there had been an overwhelming interest in the PFJ programme, resulting in an increase in the enrolment of beneficiaries. For instance, he said, from the 202,000 farmers who enrolled in the flagship programme in 2017, the enrolment figure now stood at 1.49 million. He explained that the interest in the programme was due to the deliberate investment the government had so far made in the agricultural sector in the area of subsidies on fertiliser and improved seeds.
He said the investment had generated a lot of interest among the youth, who hitherto shunned agriculture, considering it as the preserve of the aged. He said people should not think that the increasing figures for agricultural productivity were due to the rains, saying they were the result of the deliberate investments that the government had put in. He expressed happiness that agricultural productivity had impacted on inflation, which reduced from 9.5 per cent in 2016 to about 7.2 per cent in 2019. Listing more achievements, Dr Akoto said fertiliser usage had increased from eight kilogrammes per hectare in 2016 to 20kg/Ha in 2019 and shared the hope that by the end of the next four years, Ghana would achieve the ECOWAS target of 30kg/Ha fertiliser usage. The minister added that there had been an improved farmer/extension ratio from 1:1,908 in 2016 to 1:706 in 2019, explaining that it was made possible because in 2019 he was given clearance to recruit 2,700 agricultural extension agents.
He expressed happiness that agricultural productivity had impacted on inflation, which reduced from 9.5 per cent in 2016 to about 7.2 per cent in 2019.