Govt completes 80 warehouses nationwide – Agric Minister

The government has completed 80 warehouses across the country, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said.

The warehouses, according to the minister, have the capacity to store up to 1,000 metric tonnes (MT) of food items aimed at ensuring food security in the country.

The minister disclosed this during an interview with an Accra based radio station, Peace FM, monitored by the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday.

Dr Akoto said the warehouses were ready to be handed over and would be distributed to the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO), Ghana Stock Exchange, private sector organisations and the sector Ministry for efficient operation.

According to the minister, many farmers, over time, complained of incurring huge debts because they were unable to sell their produce on time, while there were no warehouses to store the produce until they got buyers.

But the minister reiterated that the completed warehouses would enable farmers store enough food, reduce post-harvest loses, improve farmer incomes and increase good marketing.

The minister also refuted claims that there were food shortage in the country, stating that the food situations in the regions were enough evidence, however, food being relatively expensive was as a result of some external factors.

He said the increase in food prices was not because of government policies, but external factors such as increment of imported chemicals and other external factors beyond their control.

“Because of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Programme, there are abundant of food in the country. We’re in the harvest season of maize and when you go to the savanna regions and the transitional zones such as Techiman and others, maize are in abundance, which indicates that the PFJ has really come to rescue the country from hunger,” he added.

Dr Akoto explained that the PFJ initiative had five implementation modules, starting with the PFJ itself, which promotes food security via crops, namely: maize, rice, sorghum, soybean, and vegetable crops (onion, tomato, pepper, etc.) which has since been expanded to include groundnut, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, cassava, cowpea, plantain and Orange Flesh Sweet Potato.

The second module, he said, focused on expanding the cash crops, known as the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD), while the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) sought to address the meat deficit in the country through the rearing of animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, fowls and guinea fowls.

The minister said the Greenhouse Villages Technology was one that focused on ensuring that there was sufficient vegetables for both local and international markets while the Agricultural Mechanisation Service Centres (AMSECs) aimed at mechanising agriculture through the use of hand-held implements and modernising agriculture.

He said however, because some of these modules were long-term, some Ghanaians did not see the impact of the PJF initiative, which actually was yielding results.

BY VIVIAN ARTHUR

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