Govt urged to focus on agric mechanisation

The government must focus on agric mechanisation to boost productivity and ensure food sufficiency in the country, a former Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Nii Armah Ashietey, has said.

According to him, the country could not continue to depend on cutlass and hoe farming in the era of technology.

Mr Ashietey was speaking in an exclusive interview with the Ghanaian Times on ways that the country can improve its performance in the agric sector in Accra on Monday.

He said the limited use of improved technology was a major cause of low agricultural productivity in the country.

According to the former Minister, the low use of technology was the reason why the country continued to be a net importer of food.

“We’re still importing fish. We’ve lost a lot as a country. Yes, the farmers are doing well but one would have thought that for all these years, our agriculture is mechanised. Not peasant farming but mechanised agriculture to help produce more yields for export and generate revenue,” he added.

Mr Ashietey said the country could not be competitive when it continued to farm manually and called for irrigation to ensure all-year-round farming.

He observed that the current rain-fed farming would not help boost food production in the country, as farmers could only farm during the rainy season.

“When it rains, it just goes waste. We can make good use of these rains by storing them in a form of creating dams for irrigation. This will even help reduce the flooding situation in the country,” he said.

He said agricultural mechanisation could contribute significantly to the development of value chains and food systems as it had  the potential to render processing and marketing activities and functions more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly.

He said the youth did not find agriculture attractive because of the way agriculture had been portrayed and marketed.

The former Employment and Labour Relations Minister said that agriculture had been portrayed as a craft for the aged and the academically poor.

“Let’s make agriculture attractive to enable the youth venture to reduce the unemployment rate in the country,” he said.

He said farmers needed stable prices for their products to encourage them to produce more.

“We need guaranteed prices for food crops, ready market so that the farmer can get something better out of their sweat,” Mr Ashietey said.

The Employment and Labour Relations Minister entreated the citizenry to consume local food, saying the “Farmers’ Day should teach us to be self-reliant in food production.”

BY VIVIAN ARTHUR

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