Ghana’s flagship agriculture intervention programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, has received worldwide acclamation as key strategy to improving food security and sustaining the incomes of smallholder farmers developing economies, at the just ended African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2022 Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
Consequently, Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture, Reuben Phiri Mtolo, has expressed desire to learn from Ghana’s food system transformation success story, a statement copied the Ghanaian Times said.
This was when the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, joined a high-level panel of three countries: Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda to highlight progress in the agriculture sector in each country, and to woo international investment into Ghana’s agriculture sector.
Although amidst implementation challenges, the PFJ especially the crop module has reportedly increased maize and rice production levels 40 per cent higher than it would have been in the absence of the programme, resulting in significant increase in food and calories by smallholder farmers across the country.
The minister was invited for the forum, September 5-9, as a guest speaker for three key sessions: Agribusiness Deal Room Launch, Leadership, Finance & Accountability: Advancing National Food Systems’ Pathways; and Ministerial Roundtable – Country Actions to Progress Pathways for Food Systems Transformation.
Additionally, the minister held a high-level bilateral engagements on the sidelines of the summit with some selected representatives from both private and public institutions, with the objective to showcase Ghana’s progress in food systems transformation, and broker strategic partnerships for mutual benefits.
Dr Akoto told the AGRF, the world’s premier forum for African food systems and agriculture that brought together agricultural stakeholders, to take practical actions and share lessons to advance African food systems and agriculture that Ghana’s agriculture sector had improved over the past seven years.
“Planting for Food and Agriculture has driven agriculture productivity in key grains whilst enhancing farm employment,” he said adding that “intercropping of trees, helps to drive soil health as well as improve nutrition,”
He emphasized that Ghana’s agriculture systems took cognizance of environmental and social concerns as “we are applying regenerative agriculture approaches to tackle climate change.”
Notwithstanding the success, Dr Akoto enumerated some challenges militating against agriculture productivity, notably agro-processing and agriculture credit to smallholder farmers to boost their output.
“We need to enhance our agro-processing capacity within Ghana, to ensure that our people are reaping the value-add opportunities of the crops we are growing, and to empower power private sector and investment by enhancing the opportunities for agricultural actors to receive credit and investment,” he added.
The PFJ, crop module was launched in 2017 to modernise agriculture sector, improve food security, create employment opportunities and reduce poverty with emphasis on maize, rice, soybean, vegetables and shorgum.
The other modules are Planting for Export and Rural Development, Green House Technology in three villages, Rearing for Food and Jobs and Agriculture Mechanisation Centres to provide doorstep service to farmers.
Meanwhile, the minister held sideline meetings and engagement with other key stakeholders at the conference including Gabriel Ferrero de Loma – Osorio, Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security and Ambassador at large for Global Food Security at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.
Dr Akoto used the opportunity to rally international investors into Ghana to invest in the agric value chains, stressing that “Ghana aims to be self-sufficient in growing paddy rice 600,000 tonnes to 1.2million tonnes.”
“We need to build institutions to support the various government of Ghana flagship programmes,” he added.
BY SALIFU ABDUL-RAHAMAN