Today is Farmers Day and as part of activities to mark the event, a forum was held yesterday to afford shortlisted award-winning farmers the opportunity to have an interface with policy makers and other players in the agricultural value chain to share experiences in the sector.
It also offered the platform for all stakeholders to deliberate on issues pertaining to the agro sector and provide a feedback to enhance policies and programmes.
At the forum held in Techiman in the Bono East Region, where the farmers had gathered for this year's National Farmers Day, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mr Francis Kingsley Ato Codjoe, called on Ghanaians to change their taste for foreign products and rather patronise food items produced in the country to ensure the success of the various agricultural polices being implemented by the government.
He said the depreciation of the cedi could also be arrested only if the government spent less of its hard-earned foreign exchange on importing food items which could be produced in the country and patronised by Ghanaians.
Mr Codjoe was contributing to discussions during the 11th National Farmers Forum which was held as part of the 36th National Farmers Day in Techiman yesterday.
Mr Codjoe observed that policies such as Planting for Food and Jobs and Aquaculture for Food and Jobs being implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development were yielding results.
However, he indicated that such gains could be sustained and help improve on the country's economy only if a deliberate attempt was made to ensure that Ghanaians consumed what was produced in the country.
While commending the ADB for the initiative to hold the forum, he also suggested to the bank to set up a special desk for women in agriculture at its various branches to speed up the acquisition of loans by women to expand their agricultural and agribusiness ventures.
Broiler Outgrower Programme
In his presentation, the Managing Director of the ADB, Dr John Kofi Mensah, said the bank was implementing a strategic plan that sought to increase the share of agricultural loans in the bank's total loan portfolio to a minimum of 50 per cent.
He explained that in the midst of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, the bank introduced a number of programmes, including the Broiler Outgrower Programme, for which GH¢500 million had been earmarked.
He said the programme was expected to help reduce the large volume of chicken and chicken parts imported into the country annually.
He added that with the collaboration of its partners, the ADB was implementing special lending to rice millers to enable them to purchase paddy from farmers for milling and sale on the local market.
Dr Mensah said the bank had also changed its vision to be more agribusiness focused, since it believed that agribusiness was a critical tool for wealth creation.
"Be assured that the ADB will continue to support our farmers and fishers with tailor-