A $113-million Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) aimed at enhancing agriculture in the country has been launched in Accra.
The six-year initiative being financed by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), is meant to support infrastructure development, technology transfer, ‘conservation’ farming and research.
President John Mahama in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Fiifi Fiavi Kwetey, said government would work hard to modernise agriculture to attract the youth to farming, because it offered a huge opportunity to address the country’s unemp- loyment.
President Mahama said agriculture would be attractive to the youth if the living conditions in the rural area were improved.
That, he said, called the provision of good roads to link farming communities to market and urban centres, good health facilities and schools.
“… our youth cannot be attracted to agriculture and inherit from their ageing parents if we expect them to go the hoe and cutlass methods of farming,” the President stressed.
President Mahama said it explained why the government had initiated GASIP, and was importing agriculture equipment and machinery such as tractors and accessories and planting and harvesting machineries.
He said GASIP was an upscale of the Northern Rural Growth Programme, which was initiated in 2009 to promote agriculture and development in the Northern sector of the country, stressing that government would address the manpower needs of agriculture.
The President advised the youth to take advantage of the GASIP and improve their lot and create jobs for others.
The Director of the West and Central African Division of the IFAD, Ides de Willebois, said his outfit had provided a grant of $10 million to support farmers in the country to withstand the effect of climate change.
He explained that the amount was to support farmers to engage in ‘conservation’ farming and engage in farming practices that would not have adverse effect on the environment.
Mr Willebois said the project would help to improve food security and lift farmers out of poverty.
The Project Coordinator of GASIP, Roy Ayariga, said the project, which would benefit about 40,000 farmers across the country, was meant to address challenges facing the agricultural sector, such as bad roads, lack of finance for farmers, poor warehousing facilities, post harvest losses and lack of market for the produce of farmers.
Specifically, he said the project would support the construction of road infrastructure and warehouses in the farming areas of the country and provide farmers with farm inputs such as tractors, adding that the project would fund research, technology and extension services for farmers.
By Kingsley Asare