President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is rallying Ghanaians to support the 2023 Budget and Economic Policy of the government to help bring the economy back on track and spur growth.
He said the measures outlined in the budget were an indication that the government was looking to cut down expenditure and mobilise the needed revenue for development.
Addressing a durbar to mark the 38th National Farmers Day in Koforidua in the Eastern Region yesterday, the President said: “It should be obvious to us by now that we can only rely on ourselves to build the Ghana we want.”
In all, 20 farmers who excelled in various areas of farming were honoured.
President Akufo-Addo said the government would take advantage of opportunities provided by the economic crisis to accelerate agriculture modernisation and mechanisation.
Making reference to recent global events which had led to a food crisis across the world, the President said that called for greater appreciation of what Ghanaian farmers and fishers had been doing to feed the nation.
He said strategic interventions made in the agricultural sector since 2017 had placed emphasis on value addition through the implementation of the One-District-One-Factory (1D1F) programme.
“It is instructive to note that 172 of the 296 factories to be established under the programme are agro-based, processing the rapidly increasing farm output of our farmers,” he said.
Describing food prices in urban centres as unacceptably high, the President noted that some internal factors were also contributing to the high prices, and added that the government would continue to evaluate the situation for appropriate action to be taken.
One of the measures taken so far, he said, was the pilot food market of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) which arranged for traders to bring food items such as plantain, yam and rice, direct to Accra from the production areas for direct sale to civil servants and the general public.
“The market has been so well patronised that it has been extended to four other locations within Greater Accra and is being rolled out in Kumasi, Koforidua and Takoradi urban centres. This is to enable consumers access to foodstuffs at an affordable price,” he said.
Touching on cocoa production, he intimated that Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and other partners facilitated the smooth introduction and enhancement of major interventions such as the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme, Hand Pollination Programme, Mass Pruning Exercise, Cocoa Disease and Pest Control Programme, and the Subsidised Fertiliser Distribution, for cocoa farmers.
The President expressed delight that since the programme was relaunched in the Western North Region, a total of farm area of 56, 343 hectares had been fully treated across the cocoa-growing regions as at end of September this year.
Also, the President said 1,000 cocoa farmers who abandoned their farms due to the swollen shoot disease had returned to their farms.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that the massive support being given to farmers by his administration had been yielding dividends.
He said in 2016, the government inherited production levels of 1.7 million metric tonnes of maize and 665,000 metric tonnes of rice but under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), maize production reached 3.4 million tonnes by 2021 and rice to 1.2 metric tonnes.
Furthermore, he said, the PFJ targeted other sub-sectors of agriculture with promising results.
For instance, he indicated that under its Rearing for Food and Jobs module, a total of 134, 400 birds and small ruminants were distributed to 1,254 beneficiaries in 2022 alone.
In addition, President Akufo-Addo said 900,000 broiler day old chicks together with 900 metric tonnes of feed and vaccines had been contracted for supply to farmers next year.
In the livestock sector, he stated that the government released GH₵15.6 million for payment of compensations to 280 farms affected by the highly pathogenic avian influenza.
That, President Akufo-Addo said, had also been supported with disease surveillance, public awareness creation and the procurement of motorbikes for operational activities to enhance early detection, prevention and disease management.
He also indicated that as part of institutional strengthening for the Veterinary Services Directorate, 550 veterinary officers and allied staff had been recruited this year alone.
Tree crops development
On tree crop development, President Akufo-Addo said since the country had now started promoting other tree crops such as cashew, rubber, oil palm, coconut, mango and shea nuts for export.
Such tree crops, he stated, had the combined potential of generating annually an additional $12 billion to supplement the annual $2 billion from cocoa.
In that respect, the President said MoFA, through the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), facilitated the provision of 2.7 million improved seedlings to 11,100 farmers during the 2022 cropping season and commended district assemblies for their participation in that area.
President Akufo-Addo urged chiefs, land owners and prospective investors to leverage the opportunities created in the tree crop sub-sector.
The President said the Cocoa Management System was ready, setting in motion the processes of rolling out fully the cocoa farmers pension scheme.
“The mandatory pension scheme, which takes effect in the current 2022/23 crop season, will provide a decent pension for cocoa farmers after a minimum of five years contribution,” he explained.
The President assured farmers that everything possible was being done to see to the full implementation of the Living Income Differential scheme to cushion them against price volatility, and also guarantee sustainable livelihoods for them.
President Akufo-Addo said since 2017, 12 irrigation schemes had been initiated out of which six were 90 per cent complete, five between 45 per cent and 70 per cent complete, and the Pwalugu dam currently at five per cent completion.
“Together, these irrigation projects will make available 31,415 hectares of land for all-year-round crop production when completed,” he said.
On warehouses, he said 80 projects warehouses of 1,000 metric tonnes capacity each had been initiated, with 65 fully completed and in use, while the remaining are all at advanced stages of completion.
Fish value addition
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the ministry was collaborating with the Food Research Institute to improve value addition in the fisheries sector.
He said as a result of the collaboration, new fish products such as fish powder, fish kebab, fish sausage, fish balls and fish floats had been developed and uptakers were being encouraged to commercialise the products.
Again, under the FAO NORAD-funded project, ‘Empowering Women in Small-Scale Fisheries for Sustainable Food Systems’, four fish processing facilities at Elmina, Dzemeni, Tema and Axim had been equipped with information technology equipment and furniture, among other facilities, to facilitate both practical and theoretical training programmes for small-scale fishers, including fish processors.