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General News of Wednesday, 8 January 2003

Source: Graphic

Ghana exceeds food production

THE country exceeded its staple food production target for last year.

The staples include maize, cassava, yam, plantain and cocoyam.

Dr Haroun Abdel Majeed, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of crops, who disclosed this in an interview said the target for maize in 2002 was 1.4 million metric tonnes, but this was exceeded by 197 million metric tonnes.

He said 3.9 million metric tonnes surplus was recorded for cassava which had a target of 9.8 million metric tonnes.

Dr Majeed attributed the good yields to a number of factors including good rainfall pattern and good extension services offered to farmers.

He said due to the good yields maize was exported to neighbouring countries such as Mali, Cote d?Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso.

In the area of yam production 3.9 million metric tonnes was projected but this went up by a surplus of 2.2 million metric tonnes, while plantain recorded a surplus of 284 million metric tonnes over the targeted 2.2 million metric tonnes.

Explaining further, the deputy minister noted that, although Ghana was able to produce staple foods in large quantities beyond its requirements, it cannot be guaranteed that the surpluses will be retained within the borders of the country due to the free trade and the liberalised cross border trade systems.

He said the government has plans to assist the private sector to purchase and store strategic stocks of maize as it did last year, when a total of about 15,000 metric tonnes of maize was stored.

Indications this year, he said, are that a total of 20,000 metric tonnes of maize might be purchased by the private sector.

On the processing and storage facilities for staple foods such as cassava, Dr Majeed stated that a sizeable amount of surpluses were converted into products such as gari, cassava dough and cassava powder.

He explained that under the new agricultural policy of adding value to the raw produce, a number of industries have emerged in several parts of the country including the Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Western regions.

He said the Ministry of Women and Children?s Affairs (MOWAC) through its Women?s Development Fund has acquired 200 gari processing machines for distribution to the cassava growing areas in the country.

The MOWAC, he stated, has also taken delivery of a number of small-scale tomato processing machines for the tomato growing areas to process tomato into paste and puree.

On rice, the deputy minister stated that the domestic supply and imports of rice were 360 million metric tonnes and that a surplus of 64 million metric tonnes was recorded.

He stated that the promotion of local rice is on course and that to encourage the reduction of rice importation by three per cent the government has now arranged institutional markets for brokers such as the Ghana Prisons Service, educational and other training institutions where they are being supplied directly with their rice needs.