The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has commenced the implementation of a policy which allows 40 per cent of local content and 60 per cent for imports of poultry products in the country.
This means that an importer would have to purchase 40 per cent of poultry products from farmers in the country, and import the remaining 60 per cent.
A Deputy Minister, Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, said this during the closing ceremony of an eight -week training course in poultry production for 35 inmates at the Nsawam Medium Prisons in the Eastern Region.
The project was organised by the Ghana Prisons Service in collaboration with Rural Enterprises Programme (REP).
He said over $200 million worth of poultry, representing 80 per cent, and other meat products were imported into the country annually.
He said the policy would encourage importers to trade in locally produced poultry products by tying import permit issuance to local purchase.
Dr. Alhassan said it would ensure that some of the money used to import meat remains in the local economy and get paid to Ghanaian poultry farmers and enhance job creation.
The Minister said measures had been put in place to increase local production and thereby reduce the importation of poultry and poultry products into foreign economies.
He said plans were also underway to improve the accommodation situation of the Prison Officers, adding that Government had provided 57 vehicles and 20 motorbikes to the Service to enhance the mobility and operational activities.
The Minister said the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been extended to cover the inmates in order to address your healthcare needs.
All these show that the prisons are in the minds and hearts of the government.
He said government is also considering ways to assist the service in the development of agricultural production within the service to supplement what government provides to generate income.
He urged the participants to take advantage of some of the programmes outlined for the youth to improve their lives and contribute their quota to the socio-economic development of the county.
The acting Director-General of Ghana Prisons Service, Emmanuel Yao Adzator in his address said the service over the years had been confronted with the training of inmates in agriculture.
He said some of the challenges include lack of agricultural machinery, funds, and storage facilities among others.
The director said last year 364 inmates received skilled development training in areas such as carpentry, furniture, soap making, tailoring, and baking.
He said 59 inmates sat for the National Vocational Training Institute examination and had 100 per cent pass.
Mr. Adzator called on other organisations, philanthropists and churches to support the agricultural initiative.
The National Director of REP, Mr. Kwasi Attah-Antwi said REP which is implemented in 161 municipal and district assemblies was part of government’s efforts to reduce and improve people’s livelihoods in rural areas.
Mr. Antwi-Attah stated that employment had been one of the most topical issues concerning the rehabilitation of ex-convicts.
He said successful re-integration into society and the economy depended on ex-prisoners securing job.
“Employment gives ex-convicts stability, autonomy, a means of livelihood and ability to support their families,” he said
Mr. Antwi-Attah stressed the need to equip the inmates with the required skilled and entrepreneurial training, business counselling and financial assistance to be able to transfer their qualities.
The Director of Agriculture in-charge of the Nungua Farms, Mr. Emmanuel Dagbui who was the course facilitator appealed to government to allocate more resources to support agriculture in the prisons across the country.
He said the produce from the farms could be used to feed the inmates and also contribute to the country’s economy.
From Anita Nyarko-Yirenkyi, Nsawam