The contribution of the agricultural sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has consistently declined in recent years, the Director of Crops, Ministry of Food and Agriculture(MoFA), Dr Osei Akoto, has observed.
According to him, trends in the production of major food crops such as maize, rice and sorghum showed that on-farm productivity had stagnated, adding that, the exploitable difference between the actual and potential yield of most crops had also widened.
He announced this during the launch of Agribooster Project in Accra last Wednesday.
Dr Akoto said studies undertaken by MoFA revealed low accessibility to and inadequate use of certified seeds, insufficient nutrient fertiliser production, and the lack of extension services to farmers.
Furthermore, he said, there was a weak linkage between producers and markets, as well as the limited use of information and communications technology (ICT) in the sector.
Nonetheless, Dr Akoto stated, the government was committed to reversing the decline.
“The government, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, is dedicated to promoting on-farm productivity through intensification of targeted crops,” he noted.
The launch of the Agribooster Project brought together relevant stakeholders in the agricultural and agribusiness sector, including policy makers, financial experts, farmers and private sector development partners.
The Agribooster project is an initiative of OCP Ghana, an agricultural inputs supplier, as a farmer-centred market development model.
The project aims at supporting smallholder farmers to gain access to financial services to enhance market linkages and good quality inputs such as hybrid seeds, crop protection chemicals and fertilisers.
The farmers will also benefit from training in good agronomic practices.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the event, the Country Manager of OCP Ghana, Mr Samuel Oduro-Asare, said Agribooster was an ecosystem that would bring together stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to address the challenges of farmers.
The project, as a pilot study, will benefit 10,000 farmers across the country, he added.
“We are starting with 10, 000 farmers and we will expand as the years go by” Mr Oduro-Asare indicated.
He stated that OCP had also introduced a mobile soil testing laboratory, made up of a device used to conduct instant soil test analysis for real-time information on the status of soil type and the kind of fertiliser to be applied on it.
Feed the world
A representative from a partner company, Oklaw, Mr Kwame Okian, said his outfit would invest about $5 million into the project towards the purchase of farm produce from the farmers, adding “it is our vision to feed the world, starting from Ghana and we will use the money to pick the produce from the farmers”.