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District assemblies to take charge of PERD

BY: Severious Kale-Dery
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto

As a measure towards full implementation of the ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD)’ programme, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is targeting to raise 4,139 million seedlings of six selected tree crops in 191 districts.

In five years, the programme is expected to make use of a total land size of 32,591 hectares.

Breakdown

Giving a statistical breakdown, the sector minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the programme was targeting to raise 2.5 million cashew seedlings in 98 districts over 25,000 hectares of land.

He said one million seedlings of oil palm was expected to be raised in 30 districts, while 555,000 rubber seedlings would be grown in 10 districts, with 45,000 seedlings of coffee earmarked to be grown in four districts.

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Furthermore, he said, 24,000 seedlings of coconut were to be raised for planting in 35 districts and 15,000 seedlings of shea in 14 districts.

Dr Akoto was speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday on the objectives and importance of the PERD programme.

The PERD is a government initiative intended over a five-year period from 2019-2023 and geared towards transforming agriculture in the country.

It is one of five modules under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ)’ programme, and is a grand and comprehensive strategy aimed at promoting sustainable growth and development of the agriculture sector.

Expected targets

Dr Akoto said metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) would be pivotal in ensuring that implementation of the PERD programme was successful given its decentralised nature and approach.

Consequently, he said, the success or otherwise of the programme in every district would form a major basis in the annual performance assessment of MMDCEs.

The move, he said, was to ensure that political leadership at the local level was fully committed to the programme.

Targets for MMDCEs

He said all MMDCEs would be required to support not less than 5,000 farmers per district to develop a minimum of four hectares during the PERD period.

“Each of them will be required to establish nurseries at the community level and also establish a minimum of 10,000 community nurseries by the end of the PERD programme,” Dr Akoto said.

Moreover, he said each MMDCE was expected to form and inaugurate a district farmers association not later than June this year in readiness for the rollout of the programme.

Diversification

Dr Akoto said PERD was introduced as a means to diversify the country’s tree crop exports and also establish a strong raw material base for industrialisation, open up employment opportunities for the youth and promote wealth creation, especially in rural economies.

He explained further that the programme was being implemented through a collaboration between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as the lead agency and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

The minister said the programme was focused on developing tree crops in the country as well as diversifying the sources of export earnings from agriculture.

Value chain

He said the PERD programme was a value chain intervention requiring strong private sector participation and investment in all the selected sequence.

“The programme is grounded on the development of selected tree crop seedlings in all districts to be managed by district assemblies and subject to ecological conditions.

“The programme’s implementation is also based on three strategic pillars which are to ensure efficient farm support, reliable business support and effective regulatory regime,” he said.