The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will soon introduce two new programmes in agriculture which are the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) and the District Centres for Agriculture Commerce and Technology (DCACT).
The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) in charge of Rural Economic Development and Agriculture, Mr Augustine Collins Ntim, gave the hint when he paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of the Wassa-Amenfi Traditional Area in the Western Region, Nana Tetrete Okuamoah Sekyim II. The minister was on a tour of 15 districts in the Western Region to assess their performance.
The districts he visited were Bibiani-Ahnwiaso-Bekwai, Sefwi-Wiawso, Bia East and West, Juaboso, Sefwi Akontonbra, Suaman, Aowin, Amenfi East, West and Central, Prestea-Huni Valley and Tarkwa-Nsuaem.
In his address to the Wassa-Amenfi Traditional Council, Mr Ntim said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development had introduced a performance assessment data for the district assemblies throughout the country to ensure that they complied with statutory provisions and delivered on the government’s goals.
He said the PERD was a decentralised national tree crop programme to be rolled out by all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs)
Under the programme, MMDAs were expected to raise and distribute a minimum of 100,000 seedlings of different cash crops ranging from cocoa, cashew, oil palm, citrus, shea, coffee, cotton and rubber to the farmers free of charge, based on the ecology of each district.
He said in addition, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives, were to recruit and engage 50 youths and train them in basic agronomic practices. He said these youths would help farmers by ensuring that every seedling that reached the farmer was planted.
The minister said the programmme was to help in boosting and strengthening the rural economy and to make rural farmers wealthy.
With regard to the DCACT, he gave an assurance that the programme would serve as a depository for data in all the districts and would collate data received on all government flagship programmes at the district level.
He said the two programmes were initiated by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Secretariat of the One-district, One-factory programme.
Mr Ntim said, under the concept, MMDAs had come out with agricultural project initiatives that took into account one or two identified cash crops and paired them with a budget that could support 10,000 to 20,000 farmers capable of cultivating on average 10 acres of the crops in the next four to 10 years.
Furthermore, he said, almost all assemblies had established seed banks and had raised several millions of high yielding varieties of seedlings that the local ecology of the districts support,for onward distribution to farmers at a zero cost.
Nana Sekyim praised the government for instituting the free SHS policy and for also introducing the double-track system to ease congestion in the schools.
He also commended the President for the initiatives he had brought on board and which had made a positive impact on the lives of the farmers in the area, especially the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, considering the fact that his traditional area was largely agrarian.