A total of 11,866 females have been enrolled on the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) programme across the 33 Municipal and District Assemblies (MDA’s) in the region last year, the Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfour has disclosed.
Speaking to Chief Executives of the MDAs, presiding members and heads of departments at the annual Regional Coordinating Council Meeting, the Regional Minister revealed that a total of 58,484 participants made up of 46,618 males have benefited from the five-year policy introduced by government to increase food production, food security for the country and to reduce food import bills to the barest minimum.
According to him, the target crops for the flagship programme in the Eastern Region for last year were maize, rice and vegetables.
Subsequently, he disclosed that the Eastern Region also recorded the highest number of Senior High School (SHS) participation in the 2018 PFJ Food Farms for Schools Campaign.
Mr Darfour indicated that 31 SHS who participated, cultivated a total land area of 184 acres.
Mr Darfour stated that under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) Program, which is meant to promote economic growth and improve household incomes of rural farmers, community sensitisation, establishment of nurseries and raising of seedlings for distribution to farmers were carried out.
The Regional Minister stated that So far, a total of 1,444,336 seedlings (coffee, oil palm, coconut, mango, cocoa, and cashew) have been raised for distribution to farmers 16,856 seedlings had already been distributed.
“I see the PFJs and PERD as an avenue to modernise agriculture and make it a source of employment for many people especially, the teeming youth. I therefore, call on all and sundry to take advantage of this policy to make farming a full time or part time activity”, he said.
He said the government was implementing many initiatives and projects to significantly increase agricultural productivity to achieve food security, and profitability for farmers in the region.
To ensure effective monitoring of these projects and supervision of the implementers, he said the government with the help of the Canadian government, supported the Departments of Agriculture in the 26 old Municipal/District Assemblies with brand new Pick-ups, in addition, Extension officers were given 234 brand new motor bikes for effective and efficient extension delivery.
Mr Darfour said the logistics, coupled with the use of various technologies such as improved seeds and fertilisers distributed across the region, had led to the improvement in extension service delivery resulting in increased production of maize, rice, cassava, tomatoes and other vegetables.
The minister revealed a total of 10,209.03 litres of liquid insecticides and 24,320.54 sachets of granular insecticides were supplied to 14,417 farmers in 2018 to combat Army Worm in the region.
As a result, he said the region recorded a reduction in the hectares of crop fields infested from 24,611 to 17,656 in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
The minister said the value of crop loss during the period was estimated at GH₵218,474, a reduction of 45.6 per cent over 2017 figure of GH₵401,884.
FROM DAVID KODJO, KOFORIDUA