PFFAJ programme to enroll 500,000 farmers next year

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (third from  left),addressing the meeting. With him are other dignitaries

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (third from left),addressing the meeting. With him are other dignitaries

The Planting for Food and Jobs (PFFAJ) programme is to be expanded to enroll 500,000 farmers next year, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said.

Currently, the government’s flagship agricultural programme, initiated this year to increase food production, has enrolled 200,000 farmers across the country.

Dr Akoto disclosed this at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting in Accra yesterday under the theme, “Securing the Economy with Agriculture.”

The minister indicated that from 2019, the project would be expanded to enroll one million farmers, adding that more crops such as soy, groundnut and cassava would be added to the project.

He said the decision to add soy to the food crops under the project formed part of a five-year strategic plan to revamp the poultry industry and also produce poultry feed locally, adding that it was unacceptable for the country to continue to import chicken, when it could be produced locally.

The minister said the President had launched a warehouse project to secure, at least, one warehouse in each district for the PFFAJ programme, saying government was currently relying on COCOBOD warehouses to store the produce.

He said government was working assiduously to address the constraints facing the agriculture in order to build a thriving agricultural sector, pointing out that, it was against that backdrop that the government had subsidised seeds and fertilisers for farmers.

Dr Akoto disclosed that his outfit would hold a workshop dubbed, Marshall Plan for Agriculture, to discuss measures to address infrastructural challenges impeding the growth of the agricultural sector.

He said the One Village, One Dam campaign promise made by the President would be implemented next year, saying government would make finances available for the project in the 2018 budget.

Dr Abu Sakara, a former presidential candidate for the Convention People’s Party, called for increased investment in the agricultural sector to address the production, transportation and marketing challenges to make Ghanaian agricultural products cheap and competitive on the market.

The general secretary of the Agriculture Workers Union, Edward Karewah said most agricultural policies did not inure to the benefit of women, and stressed that, “We need to calibrate our agricultural policies to meet the needs of women and address their aspirations,”.

Dr Alhassan Yakubu, a former Deputy Minister of Agriculture for his part called on all stakeholders to support the government to address the challenges militating against the agriculture sector, particularly in the areas of infrastructure to propel the country’s economic development.

Mr Alhassan Andani, the Managing Director of Stanbic Bank emphasised that “the country needs to come to a consensus as to the direction it wants to take agriculture to,” and called for an integrated approach from production to marketing in tackling the challenges confronting the agricultural sector.

The Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, Kenneth Ashigbey said the programme was a platform for business people to discuss topical issues which were critical to the country’s development.

 

By Kingsley Asare

 

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