We are told that per capita consumption of poultry product is low in Ghana, which has a dire consequence for our nutritional status.
Of much concern to us is that Ghana’s poultry product import bill is in the region of 400million dollars annually, although the country has the capacity to produce to meet local consumption.
Indeed, Ghana continues to be the destination for relatively cheaper poultry products from the United States of America, Brazil, and some other European countries.
In fact, from the 1960s to 1980s, Ghana was self-sufficient in livestock production, but production took a dip in the 1990s, resulting in huge import bills to the economy.
During festive occasions like Christmas and the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice (Eid-ul-Adha), livestock dealers resort to importation of livestock from the Sahelien Region( notably Burkina-Faso, Mali and Niger) to meet local demand at a rather high exchange rate.
It is refreshing that this trend in importing poultry products, which we have the capacity to produce, will drastically reduce, and give respite to our foreign exchange regime, as the government rolls out the “Rearing for Food and Jobs” module in our agriculture transformation agenda.
We commend President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for launching the programme as a motivation for farmers to step up livestock production.
It is a feather in the cap of the government that after the launch of the Planting for Food and Jobs and Planting for Export and Rural Development, Rearing for Food and Jobs has also been initiated, to limit or end the importation of food and livestock products.
We appreciate the President’s keen interest in making agriculture the backbone of economic transformation for the prosperity of the country, as he pursues the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
There is no doubt that if all goes according to plan, the Rearing for Food and Jobs would increase livestock production with the added advantages of employment generation, increase in household income levels, protein for human consumption and for that matter, guarantee food security and reduce poverty levels among the people, especially those in the rural areas.
Fortunately for us, livestock rearing is common in most rural communities across the country, and we believe the initiative will create more job avenues for the youth, to reduce their drift to the urban centres, in search for non-existent white collar jobs.
Water is very essential for livestock production. The cattle and flock of sheep need enough pool of water to drink as they graze, especially in the drying season.
We often see pictures on the international media outlet of livestock dying in neighbouring Sahelien region due to shortage of water, especially during the long spell drying season.
Ghana is blessed with a lot of water bodies, and we, therefore, call on the appropriate authorities to put in place measures to protect our water bodies from pollution, to ensure effective grazing of livestock.
We appeal to the Minister of Special Development Initiative to help resolve all the challenges facing the One Village One Dam flagship programme so that quiet a number of dams would be available, as source of water for animals.
It is our fervent hope that the programme comes with efficient, affordable and accessible veterinary service to take care of the health of the livestock.
We at Ghanaian Times are convinced that Rearing for Food and Jobs is another laudable initiative that must succeed.