We’ve given farmers invaluable respect -- Akufo-Addo

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at his swearing-in
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at his swearing-in

Food production has increased significantly, and a conscious effort has been made to improve the living standards of our farmers, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said at his swearing-in as President of the republic and Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, on Thursday, January 7, 2021.

He said the newly constructed warehouses dotted across the country are storing the surpluses for export to neighbouring countries and the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme has become the veritable rock on which the successful future of Ghana’s agriculture was being built.

President Akufo-Addo who began his second term during his swearing-in promised to preoccupy himself with the building of pathways that would create jobs for young people.

“The last four years has taught me that Ghanaians will no longer accept poverty and deprivation as their portion but are rather determined to work to chart a path of growth and development for themselves.

“Establishing a strong economy and undergoing structural transformation to value-added activities, which will generate jobs for our young people and enhance their living standards, will be the main preoccupation of my second term,” he said.

Agric minister

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, last year revealed that out of the 80 warehouses being built across the country, 51 of them were ready as at November 2020.

At the Nation Building updates series in November, on the theme: ‘Becoming the West African Food Basket,” he said government decided to build 80 warehouses across the country.

“I am glad to report that out of the 80, 51 are ready to be handed over to me. We inherited a warehouse capacity of 34,000 metric tons and we are able to add 80,000 metric tons capacity,” he said.

He said that government had given 300 pickups to extension officers to enable them to assist farmers with best farming practices to improve on their yields.

Dr Akoto said that the government was determined to ensure food security in the country; hence, the investment, adding that government intends to make horticulture a major source of foreign exchange earnings.

“We want to make horticulture major source of foreign exchange earnings fort Ghana. We want to change the whole narrative and we will be exporting more. We can make it,” he said.

Planting for Food and Jobs

One of the transformation interventions in the agric sector is the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme launched in 2017 and designed to address the myriad problems facing the agricultural sector remains the major programme aimed at the modernising the sector.

The objectives of the programme are to: ensure timely and adequate availability of elected food crops through improved productivity; provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth; and create general awareness for all formal workers to have either farms or backyard gardens.

As of July last year, a total number of 1.5 million farmers were registered with the programme, an increase from the initial enrolment figure of 202,000 farmers in the year of inception.

To enhance food production in the wake of COVID-19 and enable more farmers access to inputs, an additional 300,000 farmers were registered onto the programme, increasing the number of beneficiaries from the initial target of 1.2 million to the current 1.5 million.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG), Mr Anthony Morrison, said the PFJ had served the agric sector from a marketing perspective and had also brought to light issues in the sector such as challenges and prospects.

He said although it had helped create some jobs, the kind of biting-in required of it to integrate the economy after three years was yet to be felt.

“This is an agric sector social intervention mechanism and its model was not properly done to create needed jobs for the pro-poor people. Rather, it has come in to help some level of medium-scale commercial farmers more than the targeted people,” he said.

He said most smallholder farmers that the policy was to help did not actually experience the benefits, which made it difficult to look at a major impact.