The country will take delivery of farm machinery, worth $30 million from Brazil in fulfilment of the government’s promise to improve the mechanisation of agriculture.
President Nana Akufo Addo, who revealed this on Friday at the 35th National Farmers Day celebration at the Jubilee Park in Ho, said: “The government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has imported milling machinery for rice, maize and soya from China and Brazil, which are expected to arrive by the middle of next year. This will surely provide appreciable relief to farmers and boost the grain industry.”
He stated that the machinery, which included 250 tractors, 231 simple farm implements, 141 maize shellers, 35 multi-crop threshers and 58 planters, would be made available to farmer associations, private investors, selected district assemblies at 40 per cent subsidised cost, with the hope of expanding the mechanisation centres.
The President, who was speaking on the theme: “Enhancing Small-scale Agriculture towards Agribusiness”, said the measure would bring considerable relief to farmers as it would improve agricultural mechanisation, especially for the grain industry.
President Akufo-Addo pointed out that ineffective policies implemented in the sector over the years had contributed significantly to fluctuations in the food production in the country.
He, however, commended the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for its successful implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy.
He pointed out that it was less than three years since the government starting revamping the agricultural sector, adding that PFJ, now a household catchphrase, was achieving considerable successes within the three years of its implementation.
“It has resulted in a sectoral growth rate from a low of 2.9 per cent in 2016 to 6.1 per cent in 2017, and is expected to rise to 6.9 per cent in 2019,” the President said.
The President also re-echoed the need for Ghanaians to consume locally produced foods, especially rice, in an attempt to halt the country’s overdependence on imported rice in order to enhance the livelihood of local farmers.
“We must eat what we grow to motivate our farmers and support the development of the local food industry. Indeed, Rebecca, my beautiful wife, our First Lady, insists that we eat local rice at home, and has made sure of this. I call on all Ghanaians to follow my example and eat local rice,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Planting for Food and Jobs
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriye Akoto, said government policies on the sector were being pursued with a “sense of urgency and a culture of high accountability” in an enabling policy environment.
He stated that the ministry was implementing its PFJ policy in its Agriculture Medium Term Plan as part of efforts to ensure transformation in the sector between 2018 and 2021.
The minister said his outfit as part of the plan would ensure improved public investment, production efficiency and yields, post-harvest management and enhance the application of science, technology and innovation.
Other efforts include the promotion of agriculture as a viable business among the youth, livestock and poultry development promotion for food and nutrition security and income generation.
Climate smart farming
Dr Akoto cautioned farmers to be mindful of current challenges that threatened the sector, which included how to mechanise farm operations and marketing the produce.
“Handling large volumes of output requires the mechanisation of the harvesting of grains in particular. We cannot rely solely on labour to bring in the harvest”.
“Equally important, the bumper harvests require marketing infrastructure and huge working capital to mop up the surplus crops. These challenges are being attended to by the ministry,” Dr Akoto assured.
The minister, therefore, urged farmers to adopt smart agricultural mechanisms in the face of challenges such as climate change, which he described as “the single biggest threat to agricultural development”.
He indicated that “the unpredictability of weather patterns is affecting productivity and the livelihoods of many a farmer”, saying “climate change adaptability has therefore become an integral part of planning and investments in the agricultural sector.”
The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, pointed out that the government’s numerous interventions and investments had carved a sure path towards the transformation of small-scale farmers to become commercially viable.
The regional minister described the small-scale agricultural sector as an integral part of the country’s agricultural architecture, hence the government’s conscious efforts towards instituting and improving strategies and technologies geared towards the small-scale sector.
Nonetheless, he lamented that “most farmers who are engaged in small-scale agriculture do not enjoy the full benefits of their vocation and labour and as such they have continued to live in deprivation and poverty.”
However, he indicated that the various transformational interventions by the government were being implemented with the aim of re-writing the narrative to reverse the trend and improve the living conditions of the Ghanaian farmer.