Given the breakdown, the Food and Agricultural Minister, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi said, in 2010 rice production grew by 28.9 per cent, sorghum by 8 percent as well as 10 per cent increase of production in maize.
When asked whether this growth of 6 percent was true, the Minister said “it is very true; as a matter of fact rice grew by 29.8 per cent, sorghum by 8 percent and maize by 10 per cent.”
Speaking on TV Africa programme “Bare Facts” monitored by ghanabusinessnews.com last Tuesday February 1, 2011,
Mr Ahwoi said “If we can produce rice in one year with an output of 30% growth, then when we give ourselves a little time and continue with the programme, there is no reason why Ghana cannot be self-sufficient in rice and grain production or cannot cut down the foreign exchange spending for importation of rice”.
He added that the market situation confirms that the figures are real in the sense that prices have not increased astronomically citing the example that maize prices per 100kgm a bag in a major maize grown area like Techiman of the Brong Ahafo Region have not gone beyond GH₵50 as compared to three years ago when it was between GH₵80 and GH₵90 but have stabilized at GH₵50 and below adding that “This indicates that there is enough food on the market”.
Stating what has contributed to this growth, Mr Ahwoi said, government has established the Buffer Stock Company that has offered farmers the minimum guarantee price at which it will take the farmer’s produce if the market refuses to buy at the normal reasonable market price.
The Minister also said apart from marketing farm produce, good irrigation system and better seedlings, the introduction of the Youth in Agriculture Programme whereby 80,000 youth have been enrolled on the program to increase agric output as well as subsidy on fertilizers have also contributed immensely to this growth.
He said government is subsidizing fertilizer by 50% and this has “Increased the production of cocoa from 150,000 tonnes in 1953 to 700,000 tonnes in 2010 and hopefully a million tonnes in the coming year.”
Talking about funding for the agricultural sector, Mr Ahwoi said currently government has prepared a Bill ready to submit to parliament for approval which will set up the Agricultural Development Fund this year which has already been incorporated into the 2011 budget.
He said when this Fund comes into being, farmers and other agric-business, individuals can access the fund through their bankers. He however cautioned them to pay after they have borrowed the money or else they will lose the chance of getting another support from the fund.
By Ekow Quandzie