Government is committed to agric – Minister

Kwesi Ahwoi - Agric Minister

Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, has reiterated government’s commitment to expanding the agriculture sector, to ensure food security and employment as indicated in the 2010 Budget.

He said: “In line with the promise, 14,000 hectares of land have been tilled in six regions of the country in 2009 by 37,000 youth, who cultivated maize, rice and soya beans, with the produce being kept for any emergency”.

Mr. Ahwoi was addressing poultry farmers from Dormaa East District and Dormaa Municipality at Dormaa Ahenkro, as part of his tour of the Brong Ahafo Region to interact with farmers to find out at first hand their challenges.

He said government was consulting landowners and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector to acquire at least 150,000 hectares of farmland for farming in the region.

Mr. Ahwoi said farmers across the country had requested for credit facilities to enable them to expand their farms.

He, however, said: ” It looks as if the creditors have lost interest in pre-financing the activities of farmers because middlemen have used their bidding tactics to sway the farm produce to their advantage”.

Mr. Ahwoi cited that the activities of middlemen had resulted in tomato processing factories being starved of enough raw materials and appealed to farmers to honour their contract with their creditors.

He said the Ministry would transform poultry farms in the Dormaa area to serve as models for poultry farmers in other parts of the country.

Mr. Ahwoi said the move was in appreciation of the Dormaa farmers’ ability to sustain the poultry industry when their colleagues in other parts of the country were folding up due to basic problems.

He said as part of the innovation, the poultry farmers would be expected to comply with best production and managerial practices and form organisations that would be able to influence stakeholders in the industry.

Nana Kwabena Asamoah Asare, chairman of Dormaa Poultry Farmers Association, appealed to government to support the poultry industry, which according to him “provides jobs for thousands of people”.                                        He mentioned lack of credit facilities, absence of a veterinary laboratory, high cost of agro-chemcials and scarcity of maize (poultry feed) as some of the challenges confronting the industry in the Dormaa area.

Mr. Vincent Oppong Asamoah, Dormaa Municipal Chief Executive, said that there were more than 300 poultry farms with each holding between 2,000 and 100,000 birds in Dormaa East District and Dormaa Municipality.

He said a proposal for the construction of a market at Dormaa Ahenkro, solely for the sale and storage of poultry products, would be submitted to the MOFA for advice and assistance.

Mr. Asamoah said this was to lessen the activities of middlemen and assist poultry farmers to derive full benefit from their hard work.

As part of the visit, the Minister and his entourage were conducted round a new veterinary laboratory being constructed by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) at Dormaa Ahenkro.

Source: GNA

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