Asutifi District records good increase in food production

Food production in Asutifi District of the Brong-Ahafo Region increased tremendously, Mr. Kodwo A. Intsuah, District Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has announced.

Addressing more than 100 farmers at an Open-Day at Ntotroso in the district on Tuesday, he said there was bumper harvest at the peak of the crop season.

The Open-Day is an annual event jointly organised by the District Assembly, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and the Ahafo Mine of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL).

It is aimed at celebrating the growing success of Newmont’s livelihood re-establishment programme designed as part of measures to mitigate the impact of mining in the mine areas, as well as create an opportunity for the farmers to showcase their food produce.

The theme for the day was: “Ahafo Mine: Re-establishing Livelihood through Partnership.”

Mr. Intsuah explained that cocoyam production in the district increased from 137,213 metric tons (mt) in 2009 to 141,245 tons in 2010 crop season, whilst cassava production jumped from 264,002mt to 281,421mt.

He said plantain production also increased from 301,438mt to 363,928mt with cocoyam production increasing from 137,213mt to 141,245mt.

“Maize production saw a slight decrease from 13,398mt in 2009 to 13,103mt in 2010 due to unfavourable weather condition during the season”, Mr. Intsuah said, adding there was also an increase in rice production of 397mt in 2010 as against 388 the previous year.

Mr. Intsuah, however, stressed the need for an urgent intervention in proper marketing avenues, storage and value addition of food produce.

He said though MOFA was doing its best to address the issues, there was the need for Newmont as a partner in development to assist in the marketing and processing of the food stuffs to add value to help offset heavy losses by the farmers on their incomes.

Mr. Paul Sowley, General Manager of Environment and Social Responsibility of the Ahafo Mine explained that the company’s livelihood re-establishment in Ahafo consisted of its flagship agricultural intervention programmes.

He said the programmes were the Agricultural Improvement and Land Access Programme (AILAP), Vulnerable Peoples Programme (VPP) and the Skills Development for Income Improvement Programme (SDIIP).

Under the VPP, Mr. Sowley said Newmont had impacted on more than 680 households that had benefited from various support packages from food assistance to health, education and counseling, in addition to agric intervention.

“These are all efforts by the NGGL to raise people from hardships to become active participants in the economic and social fabric of our communities”, he stated.

Mr. Sowley explained, “This four year intervention package provides a foundation to wean vulnerable people of their hardship into life of sustained livelihood benefit to their families and the community as a whole”.

He disclosed that by the end of June this year, 530 people had been weaned-off while more than $2 million had been spent on the implementation of the programme.

Under AILAP, Mr. Sowley said with the assistance of a number of interventions from the acquisition of land, provision of farm inputs such as seedlings and other farm improvement inputs and the needed agric extension support from MOFA, NGGL supported farmers of the Mine to go back into farming.

“Mining will end someday but farming is part of our economic and social fabric and as such must be supported”, he stated and noted that the company had spent more than $10 million on the programme, which had covered several thousands of farmers.

The General Manager said Newmont had currently expanded its mining activities to a new area within the mine lease, the Amoma pit, which had impacted on 1,652 people through the compensation for their crops.

Mr. Sowley said these affected people had registered and completed the activities for the SDIIP and that the company was currently monitoring the progress of the beneficiaries to ensure that they continue to implement the practices shared to enhance their livelihoods.

Mr. Eric Addae, District Chief Executive, said the government appreciated the tremendous contributions of farmers towards accelerated national development and gave the assurance that the District Assembly would continue to support them for national food security.

Fifty-nine deserving farmers were presented with prizes ranging from bicycles, spraying machines, Wellington boots, wax print, cutlasses and weedicide.

Source: GNA

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