Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Akoto Owusu Afriyie, has said government has so far expended GH¢157million on the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign for the major season in the Southern sector and the three Northern regions.
According to the Minister, inputs distribution for the minor cropping season in the Southern sector is on-going.
“The Ministry is yet to receive the cost for the minor season cropping,” he told Parliament.
Addressing Members of Parliament, following a question by Eric Opoku, MP for Asunafo North, on the expenditure, participation and status of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign, he explained that the distribution of inputs to all districts in the southern sector for the major season cropping is completed.
The distribution of inputs to the Northern sector is near completion, however that of Southern sector for minor season cropping has begun, the Minister stated.
For maize, a total of 25,307 quantities of bags have been distributed representing 60,238 hectarage established, rice also has seen 27,448 quantities of bags distributed representing 34,300 hectarage.
As at June, 2017, GH¢24m has been spent on seeds as well as GH¢132m spent on fertilizer and haulage, totaling GH¢157m.
There is also a plan for storage capacity and the creation of a link with the private sector, which has to do with the restoration of existing warehouses- buffer stock, COCOBOD sheds, construction of warehouses in districts with no facilities.
He also added that, government will also create linkage with private licensed agents, poultry farmers, ECOWAS, Buffer Stock, Grains and Legumes Development Board, processors, exporters and other recognized players.
Furthermore, Dr. Akoto Owusu Afriyie, also pointed out challenges that the campaign is so far facing include inadequate domestic supply of seeds. Due to this problem, government has been importing from Burkina Faso 550 metric tonnes of maize and 560 metric tonnes of rice.
Dr. Afriyie indicated that, government will contract SARI, Grains Board, Crop Research and their customers to supply seed by March 31, 2018.
Other challenges include unavailable farmer database, with a revival of the e-registration of farmers, the immediate strategy government plans on adopting.
He said so far, 188,338 farmers and potential farmers have been registered under the scheme, out of the targeted 750,000 opportunities to be provided for the prospective farmers, particularly the youth. He disclosed that this year the ministry’s target is to register 200,000 farmers.
The Minister said the PFJ programme has five main areas of intervention which are the provision of improved seeds, provision of fertilizer, provision of extension services, marketing and e-agriculture platform.
“Under the campaign, selected farmers are supported with farm inputs such as improved seeds of the targeted crops, fertilizers and extension services directly from the ministry, whilst other pillars are to be implemented with the private sector,” the minister explained.
He said the aim of the government is to use the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme to transform the agricultural sector; and this would be done by increasing productivity of the farm resources centred on smallholding activities, to provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth and to provide raw materials for the industrial sector.
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