More than 500 women in four districts of the Northern Region are benefiting from an Opportunities Industrialization Centre (OIC) Maternal and Child Health (MCH) livestock placement programme to help them raise their incomes to sustain their children.
Under the programme 1,025 sheep and goats nicknamed “living loan” would be given out to support MCH women groups in 21 communities in the Tolon/Kumbungu, Savelugu/Nanton, Central Gonja and West Gonja districts.
Mr Ben Anamoh, Programme Manager of OIC, who commissioned the livestock support programme in Kumbungu on Wednesday, said each woman would be supported with five sheep or goats and the community would be given a ram, which is an improved crossbreed to improve upon the sheep in the community.
He explained that the programme was in two phases. For the first phase, 550 sheep would be distributed to the women while the second phase would see other women benefiting from the offspring of their colleagues stock.
He said the programme had been made possible with additional resource support of 800,000.00 US dollars by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Food for Peace (FFP) Ghana to the MCH programme.
Mr Anamoh said the livestock programme was a follow up on an earlier programme where the OIC supported farmers with small ruminants with 3,000 sheep and goats and about 6,000 poultry.
He said the programme was successful and many households witnessed an increase in their incomes and food security adding that apart from this the farmers also integrated their livestock system with cropping system and realized the production of more food as a result of the use of organic manure in their crops.
He said the programme had provided training in improved husbandry practices to the women beneficiaries and also trained community livestock workers in each of the communities.
Mr Anamoh hoped the livestock enterprises would lead to the improvement of the health status of the mothers and their children.
Alhaji Iddi-Manzah, Tolon/Kumbungu District Chief Executive said, the agricultural sector performance had been very impressive under the current government and had ensured food security while increasing access of the poor to adequate food nutrition.
He said, this notwithstanding, the World Food Program noted in its 2009 food security and vulnerability report that five per cent of the Ghanaian population or 1.2 million people had limited access to sufficient and nutritious food for an active life.
He said in a bid to arrest the situation and increase agriculture productivity and access to sufficient and nutritious food for all, the government had embarked on the modernization of agriculture and a number of policy strategies had been outlined in the 2010 budget in pursuit of this policy.
Dr Kakari Agyeman, Northern Regional Veterinary Officer, urged the beneficiary of the livestock programme to always feed the animals properly and also seek medical care for them from veterinary officers to ensure their healthy growth.