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General News of Thursday, 19 February 2009

Source: GNA

Mills pledges to pursue Accra Plains Irrigation Project

Accra, Feb. 19, GNA - President John Evans Mills on Thursday pledged that his government would irrigate the Accra plains to be the flagship of its agricultural revolution.

"The Accra Plains Irrigation Project will be vigorously pursued to make it available for all year round production. It will be the flagship of the agricultural revolution of this administration," he said in the State of the Nation Address to Parliament.

President Mills said the government would construct additional dams, boreholes and other water harvesting facilities in areas with high agricultural potential.

The President said his Government would address simultaneously the issues of food availability, access to food, response to crises situations and malnutrition.

It would invest adequately to maintain the production level of those crops for which we have surplus production and put in measures to increase significantly the production level of those crops for which we have deficit production.

"We will also put in place measures to increase significantly the production level of the staple crops for which consumption demand exceeds domestic production," President Mills said in his maiden State of the Nation Address to Parliament in Accra.

The President said the Aveyime Rice Project would be restored to boost rice production for internal consumption and for export. "We will move beyond rhetoric and execute a programme to rehabilitate existing irrigation schemes to ensure their efficient utilization."

President Mills said his Government would pursue a policy of direct intervention to make available production inputs for small farmers on credit. In addition to the credit support, Government would continue the fertilizer subsidy programme.

"To address the situation of cheap poultry and meat imports, large scale cultivation of maize and soybeans will be supported to drastically reduce the cost of feed for poultry production. Tariff and non-tariff barriers will be used to give local poultry production a competitive edge over cheap imports."

The President said Government would review all existing agreements on fishing within Ghana's territorial waters to ensure that the livelihood and long-term interests of our fishermen and the residents of the coastal communities are guaranteed.

Government would also enforce the prohibition of the unorthodox fishing methods currently used by some foreign and local fishing trawlers which are leading to the depletion of our marine fish resources.

"We will enhan ce the capacity and capability of the Ghana Navy and Air Force to enforce the prohibition. We will also enforce regulations on pair trawling and we will enforce the ban on the use of light and explosives for fishing," President Mills said. On Cocoa, the President said the Government would aim to increase the yield of cocoa from 1,250 kg to about 1,750 kg per hectare through better farm management application of hi-tech production systems and better producer prices.

He said the current mass cocoa spraying exercise would be intensified and extended to include brushing, pest and disease control, shade management, pollination and fertilization. "In pursuance of the objective to process at least 60 per cent of the cocoa produced locally, the NDC Government will begin negotiations for the establishment of a cocoa processing factory in the heart of the cocoa producing area of the Western Region. This will reduce the burden of transporting large quantities of cocoa beans to the ports."