The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has begun a six-day tour of five (5) regions across the country.
The tour forms part of the government’s plans to increase production in six tree crops–cashew, coffee, rubber, shea butter, coconut, and palm oil.
It was also to afford the minister the chance to see progress or otherwise of government’s flagship program—Planting for Food and Jobs. The four regions are Ahafo, Bono, Bono East, Ashanti, and Eastern Regions.
Addressing journalists in Ahafo regional capital of Goaso which was his first port of call last Monday, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said the government has resolved to turn its attention to the cultivation of more tree crops to ensure that the country rakes in the full benefit.
He said the government was determined to place much premium on six more tree crops production.
Addressing journalists, the minister charged the District Director in charge of Asunafo South, Kofi Senti, to, as a matter of urgency, ensure that irrigation facilities in the region were maintained to support this initiative by the government.
And though cashew production was making some progress in the region, he was disappointed at the breakdown of its processing plant at Mim. He, therefore, assured that his ministry would ensure that the plant works again.
Presenting the overall performance of both crops and animal production in the region, the Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr. Kingsford Nyame, observed that despite some progress made, both crops and animal products were faced with some challenges.
These challenges, he said, included the delay in the release of Modernising Agriculture (MAG) funds to District Agriculture Development Units (DADUs) and fertilizers to district assemblies.
He said the above factors impacted the overall performance of crops and animal production in the region.
Inadequate veterinary staff members also contributed to the low output in the production of animals, he added.
The presentation, however, was without the first quarter of 2021 crop yield. This did not sit well with the minister who was obviously not happy.
According to Mr. Nyame, there was a marginal increase in yields of crops like maize, cassava, rice, cocoyam, yam, and plantain in 2020.
For instance, he disclosed that “in 2020, rice production recorded 22,028 as compared to 10,494 in 2019.”
Furthermore, the Ahafo regional director of agriculture said animal production in 2020 also saw some increment.
Poultry production, for example, he revealed, recorded a 37.7% increment which is 631,592 in 2020 compared to 393,772 in 2019.
“Sheep production recorded a 24% chance with 47,202 in 2020 as compared to 35,756 in 2019,” he disclosed.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto seized the chance to urge the regional agriculture directors to work with a sense of urgency to ensure that the investment made in both crops and animal products was realized.
He also tasked them to encourage more women in agriculture activities.
However, Inputs Dealers Association expressed worry about the rather slow supply of inputs.
Later, the minister and his entourage visited the Kenyasi Prison Farm of about 200 acres of land out of a total of 600 acres and assured that his outfit would provide the needed machinery to uproot tree stumps to enable the expansion of the farm.
“We paid a courtesy call on the chief of Kenyasi who also complained about the road network,” he added.
Finally, the minister and his team interacted with some women who were into rice production and promised to support them with machinery to enable them to venture into large-scale production.