In 2017, when the government launched its agricultural flagship initiative, Planting for Food and Jobs, the intention was to boost food production and make the country self-sufficient in food.
The initiative was designed to transform the agricultural sector and position it as the driver of the national economy.
A key pillar in this transformational agenda has been agricultural mechanisation to modernise and fast-track the agenda.
But, since we do not manufacture agricultural equipment in the country, mechanising agriculture means importing the machinery, for which reason the government embarked on the importation of heavy, medium and hand-held tractors and machinery for farmers.
The machinery cost the nation a fortune. For instance, between 2017 and 2020, a whopping $269-million worth of agricultural equipment has been imported to mechanise agriculture in the country.
The Daily Graphic believes that if the equipment had been produced locally, it would have saved the country a lot of money, which could have been channelled into other useful projects.
That is why we are satisfied that the governments of Ghana and India have signed a credit agreement for the establishment of an assembling plant for agricultural equipment at Essienimpong in the Ashanti Region.
The plant, expected to be completed in 18 months, will assemble tractors and backhoe loaders and also undertake the fabrication of other agricultural equipment.
The plant will, surely, be a big relief to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, as it will reduce the international trekking by its officials to countries such as The Czech Republic, Brazil, India and China for such equipment.
We also see the agreement as a significant development and a step to boost the mechanisation of our agricultural sector to drive the growth the country desires.
The Daily Graphic cannot help but support the implementation of the project, as it will bring farm machinery within the reach of small and marginal farmers in the country by popularising the use of agricultural machinery in the country.
We expect that the Action Construction Equipment Ltd of India, the company to execute the project, will train our local engineers to be able to operate the machines and not frequently bring down its engineers just for routine maintenance of the equipment.
It is commendable that the agreement has a training component of local engineers on the handling of the machines.
We don’t expect the plant to remain an assembly plant forever, but there should be a medium to long-term plan to escalate it to the standard where it will manufacture and assemble the equipment locally.
We believe that the decision of the Chief of Essienimpong, Nana Onwanwani, to release 20 acres of land for the project deserves commendation. It is an example worth emulating by other chiefs to make land available for projects in their communities for the good of not only those communities but the country as a whole.
The importance of such a project to the Essienimpong community is massive, as it will create job opportunities for the youth in the area and also open it up to the rest of the country.
The Daily Graphic holds the Ministry of Food and Agriculture responsible as the supervising ministry to ensure that the project is executed as signed. We will follow closely the project to its logical conclusion.
We cannot continue to use hard currency to import such equipment when such an opportunity has availed itself.