The governments of Republic of South Korea, Indian and an Israel investment company have committed to assisting Ghana to boost agriculture production to enhance food security in the country, a release from the ministry copied to The Ghanaian Times said.
The commitment was made by the Korean Ambassador to Ghana, Lyeo Woon-Ki, Indian Ambassador to Ghana, Birender Singh and Daniel Ariel, leader of Commercial Project Management Africa and ME,a renowned Israeli investment group when they paid separate courtesy calls on the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto at his office in Accra.
It was in response to requests by the new minister as the government is set to roll a new agric policy, “The Planting For Food and Jobs Policy”, expected to create about 750,000 direct jobs in the first year of its operations.
Speaking to an 8-member delegation led by the Korean Ambassador to Ghana, Lyeo Woon-Ki, who called on him on Wednesday, Dr Akoto appealed to the Korean Government to support Ghana with her expertise in rice production in order to help Ghana reduce the huge amount of dollars spent on importing rice into the country.
The new agriculture policy, expected to commence in the coming crop season, is aimed at increasing food production and ensure sustainable supply of food at cheaper cost while creating jobs for the teeming youth in the country.
It is expected to roll out in all 216 districts across the country and will involve the supply of farm resources such as high yielding and improved seedlings to participating farmers to be carefully selected by both the regional and district directorates under the agric ministry.
It would engage the services of over 1,000 unemployed graduates from the five Agricultural Colleges across the country as well as about 3,200 extension officers to provide expertise and supervisory services to beneficiary farmers.
Ghana’s Agric Minister was of the view that with the knowledge and expertise in hi-tech rice production, the Government of Korea must invest heavily in the cultivation of the staple food in order to boost local production.
The Korean Ambassador briefed the Minister on the various policies and programmes which have been proposed by his country to support the growth of agriculture in Ghana, saying “we are ready to partner Ghana in her quest to improve and modernise the agric sector.”
The Ambassador said the main target was to increase the production of rice in Ghana by 50 per cent through an initiative set to be rolled out subject to the approval by Ghana Government.
According to him, the project would include amongst other things, the organizsation of training programmes for some selected Ghanaians in Korea and the construction of rice processing complex.
The leader of Commercial Project Management Africa and ME, Mr. Ariel declared the intention of the company to invest heavily in irrigation and technological projects aimed at developing Ghana’s agriculture sector, especially in the area of cultivation of food crops and construction of factories for agro-processing.
The firm has been operating in over 100 countries across the world with investments in several areas such as agriculture, mining, trading among others. It has been in existence for more than forty years.
The firm is expected to partner the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to ensure the smooth and efficient implementation of the programmes which is expected to commence in Kokobila in the Kumbungu District of the Northern Region.
The Indian Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Singh for his part expressed the commitment of the Indian government to invest in agro processing, agric mechanisation, as well as drying facilities for food security in the country.
Meanwhile the minister has held a meeting with all regional directors of agriculture as well as heads of national institutions under the ministry in Accra, aimed at briefing participants on government’s policy for agriculture and to discuss modalities towards achieving targets indicated in the party’s manifesto.
He disclosed that a seed capital of $50 million dollars has been earmarked by government to provide a ready market for farming produce expected to be realised from the policy.
The minister warned that the government would not entertain any laxity or lackadaisical attitude towards work, cautioning that anyone who does not share in the vision of government must either bow out or will be left behind.
“There is no time for laziness; those times are gone. It is now time for action, we need to fulfill the promises made to Ghanaians and we are not going joke about that. If you think you can’t be part of that kindly exit and allow those who are ready, to work!,” He noted.
The Minister-designate however expressed confidence in the capacity of the officers to execute their duties, stressing that the declining trends of the agricultural sector over the last eight years must be halted and reversed.
He further hinted of a complete overhaul of the structures within the ministry in order to ensure coordination and direction.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman