General News of Saturday, 26 January 2013
Food and Agriculture Minister-designate Kofi Humado has pledged to engage rice industry stakeholders to boost local production of the crop.
Taking his turn to answer questions from members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament Friday, Mr. Humado noted that Ghana has been producing more of its own rice. While at the beginning of the just-ended presidential term, Ghanaian farmers produced only 30% of all domestically consumed rice, this figure now stands at 50%.
He admitted, however, that there is still a long way to go before Ghana can fulfill all its own rice needs.
Among his top priorities upon assuming office, should he pass the vetting stage, are identifying areas that suitable for irrigation, offering technical support to farmers and engaging crop scientists in the development of improved seeds that yield large harvests and suit the tastes of Ghanaian consumers.
With regard to the poultry industry, the nominee said if the Committee ratifies his appointment, he will engage the National Buffer Stock Company to help fix problems associated with pricing for feeds and reduce feed costs as a means to ensure sustained production.
He also pledged to incentivize and farmers, particularly youth, to focus on producing yellow maize and soya beans for use as feed. This, he said, would significantly reduce the costs associated with raising animals commercially and would therefore put Ghanaian farmers in a better position to compete with the large foreign exporters who currently undersell them.
He assured the Committee that mechanized service centres would be established in all district assemblies to make it less difficult for farmers to get their implements regularly serviced, meaning that they will experience less downtime due to mechanical failures.
Finally, in his responses to many of the panelists’ questions, he mentioned his intention to help small- and medium-scale farmers by working to establish an outgrower system, whereby the government partners with and offers support to large-scale crop producers who in turn partner with and assist smaller farmers.