The Director of Crop Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Seth Osei-Akoto, has disclosed that the ministry under the Planting For Food and Jobs (PFJs) will support farmers to go into rice farming as part of the government’s Special Rice Initiative Project this year.
The Director who disclosed this last Friday, at Zuarungu in the Upper East Region to stakeholders during an Input Dealers Conference on behalf of the sector minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, stated that the strategy was part of the government’s intention to empower many farmers to contribute to making the country becoming self-sufficient in rice production by the year 2024.
The forum which attracted input dealers, farmers and directors of MOFA among others from all the 15 municipal and district assemblies in the region was organised by the Petasgo Enterprise, the main distributor of agriculture inputs in the region.
The minister gave the assurance that as part of the process aimed at achieving the set target, the government through the ministry in this crop season would empower farmers in regions that have comparative advantage in rice production with 5,000 metric tons of rice seeds to begin with.
He stated the beneficiary farmers would also be made to enjoy the fertiliser component under the PFJs programme as well as be assisted with combined harvesters, millers and planters, among others.
“The government through the ministry has already started bringing into the country some of these state-of-art farming machines to help ensure that Ghana becomes self-sufficient in rice production come the year 2024,” he stressed.
He stated that as part of the process, the ministry had recruited 2,700 agriculture extension officers (AEOs) who would go round the fields across the beneficiary regions to educate and sensitise the rice farmers on the needed technology for the effective growth of the crop.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Ms Paulina Patience Abayage, who stated that the country had already become food sufficiency in the area of maize production as a result of the PFJs, indicated that Ghana as a country this year around did not import maize as it used to do but rather exported the crop to other neighbouring countries to earn foreign exchange.
She said the Upper East Region particularly Gbedembelsi in the Builsa North and South Districts, the Tono and Vea Irrigation dams in the Navrongo and the Bolgatanga municipalities respectively including many valleys in the Kassena-Nankana West and other parts of the region were endowed with rice production.
The regional minister, who encouraged many farmers particularly the youth to take advantage in the government’s Special Rice Initiative, disclosed that the Africa Development Bank had also planned to support many farmers to go into maize and soya beans cultivation to feed animals under the Rearing for Food and Jobs which is to be introduced this crop season.
The Executive Director of Petasgo Enterprise, Mr Peter Adongo, explained that his outfit decided to create the public space for the duty bearers in MoFA to help address the challenges confronting the input dealers and farmers in general.
He said last year crop season his company encountered some fake coupons under the PFJs and commended MOFA for abolishing the coupon system this year but reiterated the need for all stakeholders to support government accomplish its dream of ensuring food security.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, ZUARUNGU