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Politics of Saturday, 4 December 2021

Source: GNA

Government is building robust and resilient agricultural systems - Dr Afriyie Akoto

Agric Minister, Dr. Afriyie Akoto Agric Minister, Dr. Afriyie Akoto

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Friday pledged government's continued commitment to building robust and resilient agricultural systems to maintain national food security.

"We are firmly on that path to building a robust, resilient and equitable food system that can withstand shocks. The evidence of this finds expression in Government’s flagship programme; Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), which was launched by the President in 2017,” he said.

"All the five modules of the PFJ are contributing significantly to the national transformational agenda of government. These are Food Crops Module, the Tree Crops Module, the Livestock Module, Rearing for Food and Jobs, Greenhouse Technology Module, and the Farm Mechanisation Module," he added.

Dr Afriyie Akoto gave the reassurance at the 37th Farmers Day celebration at the Adisadel College Park in Cape Coast, on the theme: "Planting for Food and Jobs: Consolidating Food Systems in Ghana," which honoured 165 farmers and fishers across the country.

The strategic agriculture interventions had the potential to do more in the coming years to better the lives of the people.

Across the modules are underlying core strategies to promote agribusinesses along the value chain to ensure maximum returns and job creation for the economy and in the spirit of building a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid.’

He underlined the recent global shortage of fertilisers and the dramatic rise in the international prices of the commodity due to world market price instability over the last 12 months.

"Since we import all our fertiliser requirements, our farmers cannot escape the consequences on our domestic subsidy programme. The Ministry, therefore, encourages farmers to turn to organic fertilisers, which are available locally," he advised.

The Ministry was also working to redouble efforts in attracting the Multi-Billion US Dollars required to invest in a fertiliser manufacturing plant, using the surplus gas find in the offshore explorations, Dr Afriyie-Akoto said.

In furtherance to that supporting agribusiness also meant quality job creation for many, especially the youth, in the promotion of entrepreneurship in agriculture and wealth creation for entrepreneurs.

In that regard, the Ministry, through the promotion of agribusiness, has transformed the Youth in Agriculture Programme from a non-performing institution to a vibrant one since 2018.

The programme, in 2021, engaged more than 15,000 youth, including young women, through 54 nucleus-outgrower agribusiness partners, to cultivate maize and other crops, the Minister said.

The high yielding varieties and efficient fertilisers used in the programme more than doubled their yields, resulting in the indirect engagement of 62,000 additional youth, as grain aggregations, transporters and marketers.

Also, the programme implemented three Greenhouse projects in the southern and mid-belts of the country.

This resulted in the creation of various youth jobs and a highly thought-through arrangement for the trainees to acquire agro technological skills in Israel, Dr Afriyie-Akoto said.

From 51 and 75 students, who participated in the 11-month paid internship in 2018 and 2019, respectively, the programme has more than doubled student participation.

"I am happy to announce that 200 trainees are embarking on the Israeli internship this year 2021 alone," the Minister said.

The increase in the numbers was due to the high reputation gained by the Ghanaian trainees in Israel due to their hard work, discipline and the mentoring arrangements put in place by the Ministry before departure.

"Back from Israel, the trainees are assisted by the Ministry to develop agribusiness plans and to seek support for their own private agribusinesses,” he said.

“The returnees, who arrived this year, are being assisted to develop their own businesses in the Dawhenya and Bawjiase Greenhouse villages for vegetable production."

The Minister congratulated all farmers and fishers and the Agriculture Development Bank, Exim Bank and Stanbic Bank and partners for their support towards a good cause.

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