As Ghana steps up efforts to avert food insecurity, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has launched a five-year flagship program dubbed “Planting for Food and Jobs”.
The campaign which is designed to encourage the citizens, both urban and rural to take up farming as a full business, would employ more than 750,000 people.
The “Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign” will focus initially on four key commodities: maize, rice, soybean and sorghum.
The cardinal principle behind the implementation of this program is to ensure immediate and availability of sufficient food in the country.
Despite, the agrarian nature of our lands, the country’s annual food import bill recently hit an unprecedented 2 billion US Dollars.
In fact, this country lost more than 400 million US Dollars annually through post- harvest losses, mostly at the farm gates, so you can imagine how many farmers are suffering because of the absence of the market for their produce.
However, it appears the planting for food and job program is gaining momentum at all the regional levels.
It has emerged that more than 5,900 farmers have been registered in the Ashanti region for the planting for food and jobs campaign by the government.
In the Volta region, a total of 7,914 farmers made of 5,885 males and 1,797 females have been registered for the campaign with the region registering 4,862 maize farmers to cultivate a total area of 14,400.
Brong Ahafo region has recorded more than 27000 farmers for the program.
Ghana has a huge extension officer to a farmer ratio. Statistics at hand indicates one extension agent is to 2,200 farmers, which is quite worrying, hence, the decision of the government to engage the services of Youth employment staffers to augment the number of extension officers for the program.
In all over 180 Youth Employment Agents have been engaged to assist agricultural extension service in the Ashanti region to ensure smooth implementation of the project.
However, in the Upper West region 86 graduates from Agricultural Colleges as Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs) have been recruited to offer support to the beneficiary farmers.
The required preparatory works have been completed and actual field work is set to commence anytime soon.
It is estimated that about 3,760,723 metric tonnes of produce at a valued at GH1.3 billion would be created this year-2017 from this program, compared to 2016 production level of 2,782,44 metric tonnes at a value of Gh0.7 billion, a source from the ministry has stated.
All the ten regional technical teams have been inaugurated to oversee the full and speedy implementation of the program.
The Minister of food and Agriculture Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has disclosed government’s decision to buy directly from the farmers, after production.
The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, announced that 1,000 metric tonne capacity warehouse would be constructed in each of the 216 districts as part of the planting for food and jobs.
The project also seeks to create an enabling environment for the youth and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that exist in the sector.
Therefore, the need exists for innovative and revolutionary ideas on how to modernize and transform the sector which remains critical as far as the speedy implementation of the 5 years program is concerned.
The Canadian government has shown her commitment to the program by pumping in $150 000 million dollars for the initial start of the project, whiles, the US government is supporting the program through its Feed the Future initiatives with $225 US million dollars.
As part of the program, the government has reduced the price of fertilizer by 50% of the original market price.
But the information available indicates that the said subsidized fertilizer to aid the smooth implementation is not available on market for purchase.
Farmers are expected to pay an up- front sum of money before the certified seeds will be released to them.