Photo taken on Nov. 26, 2015 shows a truck loaded with sacks of agricultural produce along the muddy Sironko-Mbale road at Bugusege trading centre, eastern Uganda. As a country where over 80% of the population relies on agriculture, the Uganda government is prioritizing growth of infrastructure to economically viable areas to ease access to the markets. (Xinhua/Daniel Edyegu)
Photo taken on Nov. 26, 2015 shows a truck loaded with sacks of agricultural produce along the muddy Sironko-Mbale road at Bugusege trading centre, eastern Uganda. As a country where over 80% of the population relies on agriculture, the Uganda government is prioritizing growth of infrastructure to economically viable areas to ease access to the markets. (Xinhua/Daniel Edyegu)

The Ghanaian government is targeting a total of 1 million farmers to distribute improved seeds and fertilizer as part of its agricultural transformation agenda under the ‘Planting for food and Jobs’.

A top official of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Richard Twumasi-Ankrah said here late Monday during the 2018 Business Council for Africa (BCA) Annual Economic Review Forum under the theme: “Deepening Government’s collaboration with the Private Sector: The Role of Policy”.

The government as part of the package for 2019 he emphasized, will distribute 13,000 metric tons of improved seeds and 439,000 metric tons of fertilizer to expand the operations of Ghanaian farmers to improve their yields.

Before the launch of the “Planting for food and Jobs” by the government in April 2017, the country’s agricultural sector was bedeviled with a number of challenges.

Twumasi-Ankrah said, “Prior to 2017, it was discovered that only 11 percent of Ghanaian farmers used improved seeds only 20 percent of Ghanaian farmers used fertilizers. We also have an inefficient agricultural extension services, yield of crops were so low, less than 60 percent of the potential yields based on what the researchers who developed the varieties gave us.

There was high cost of poultry feeds which includes commodities such as maize and soyabean in the planting for food and jobs program as well as lack of youth involvement in agriculture production, marketing problems especially small scale farmers and inadequate production of basic food crops.

But after one year of the introduction of the government’s ‘Planting for food and Jobs’ program, the sector he observes “has witnessed a growth rate of 8.4 percent in 2017 according to the provisional estimates. This was after almost a decade of erratic performance with an average growth rate of 3 percent.

It is important to mention that significant yield increases were recorded for selected commodities in 2017. Maize yields increased by 67 percent from 1.8 metric tons per hectare to 3 tons per hectare. Rice yields increased by 48 percent from 2.7 metric tons per hectare to 4.0 metric tons per hectare and soyabean increased by 150 percent from 1 metric tons per hectare to 2.5 metric tons per hectare.”

The successes achieved so far, the top government official said was an indication that the Ghanaian government was on the right path towards the agricultural transformation.

He emphasized the agricultural sector needs good storage systems, cleaning, drying and packaging facilities and warehouses to store various products as well as the setting up of fertilizer plants among other services hence urged the private sector to take advantage of the numerous opportunities to partner the government in its agricultural transformation agenda.

The government’s vision in the industry, Twumasi-Ankrah observed, was working hard to boost agricultural productivity and run farms as modern businesses and strengthen the links between farms and other economic sectors in the agricultural value chain in a mutually beneficial process where farm output support manufacturing through agro-processing supporting farming by providing modern agricultural input and services

He assured local and the international community the government will create an enabling environment for businesses to participate actively in the sector.

Head of the Economics Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, Professor Prof. William Baah-Boateng expressed worry about the high unemployment rate in the country and urged the private sector to partner government to expand their operations to create employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed in the West African country.

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