Govt launches “Rearing for Food and Jobs”

Livestock production in the country is to receive a major boost next year as the government plans to provide more support to the sub-sector through a new agricultural campaign.

Dubbed “Rearing for Food and Jobs”, and modelled after the ongoing “Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ)”, the campaign would aid the reviving of the ailing sector and create more job opportunities.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who announced this yesterday at the Meet-the-press series in Accra said although the sub sector was key to economy , its current state was worrying.

He said the annual national demand for poultry, for instance, was an estimated 232,000 metric tonnes but half of it was imported due to high cost of production which could be reduced with the needed support.

Ahead of the campaign, he said the Ghana Cattle Ranching Project Committee, inaugurated in July 2017 following some clashes between nomadic herdsmen in parts of the country, was spearheading the rehabilitation of four fodder banks.

Covering 250 hectares of land each at Kwahu Afram Plains North and South Districts, he said the one at Wawase had been completed and would be used as pilot grazing.

If successful, Dr Akoto said it would be replicated nationwide for the country to get proper ranching system to curb the occasional clashes between residents and nomadic herdsmen.

He said the nomadic herdsmen were the best cattle rearers and if the country leveraged on their experience, the country would derive more milk and meat as well as jobs.

On the ongoing PFJ, he insisted that the programme with 340,000 registered farmers created 745,000 jobs last year and recorded maize, rice, sorghum and soya yields of a total 729,770 metric tonnes.

As the government targets 500,000 farmers this year, he said challenges encountered last year, including the fall army worm (FAW)  invasion that destroyed 14,247 hectares of farms, were being addressed.

For the FAW, he said aside provisions of pesticides experts were scouting for their natural predators to use as bio-control agents; the ministry was expanding awareness creation and field monitoring.

Dr Akoto disclosed that the government was pursuing green house technology to boost the country’s “huge” horticulture potential, following the lifting of the European Union ban on five horticulture products in 2017.

To improve the extension services of the PJF programme, he said 2,700 agriculture extension officers would be recruited soon while processes were ongoing to procure 3,000 motorcycles to support extension delivery.

“We are on track to transform agriculture to bring about accelerated and sustained growth for jobs and economic development,” he said.

By Jonathan Donkor and Grace Baah    

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