Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), has announced that government is on the verge of adding certified seeds and liquid fertiliser in the farmers’ subsidy package for the 2012 cropping season.
He said last year about $68 million worth of fertiliser was imported into the country for distribution to farmers.
Mr Ahwoi announced this when he launched the “irrigated maize production programme in Ghana” by Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds, a US agro-business entity, in Tamale at the weekend.
Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds which has been in the country for some time now has already introduced its hybrid maize known as “Pioneer maize” which is drought resistant and could yield 42 bags per acre.
Mr Ahwoi said the subsidy on certified seed and liquid fertiliser would be done in conjunction with increased irrigation, improved soil and water management to obtain a holistic approach to step up farm-level productivity.
He said farmers are the pivot around which the drive for increase productivity revolves and as a result they are being provided with critical research findings and results together with education to enable them adopt and apply appropriate technology along the agriculture value chain.
He said he wants to see farming as a business and farmers becoming rich. To achieve this, farmers need to increase their productivity from the current yield of 1.7 metric tons per hectare to about eight metric tons per hectare.
The Agriculture Minister said it is the intention of government to double the current maize production of 1.8 million metric tons to about three million metric tons within the next three years to meet both animal and human requirements.
Mr Ahwoi urged Pioneer Hi-Bred Company to consider the local content practice by putting in place modalities that would facilitate and enhance its operations in Ghana.
He said Northern Ghana could boast of a number of reputable institutions and manpower which could serve as a platform from which Pioneer’s activities would be sustainable and mutually beneficial.
Mr San Nasamu Asabigi, Deputy Northern Regional Minister noted that farmers could have the best of soils and agricultural inputs but without good seed they can achieve no better yields and therefore encouraged farmers to adopt the new hybrid maize seeds.
He said nature had blessed the region with water bodies and therefore urged farmers to take advantage of it to embrace the irrigated maize production programme to boost productivity.
Dr Bob Walker, Africa Director of Pioneer HI-Bred, said the Company annually spends billions of dollars to undertaking research in several of its centres around the world to improve upon the quality of its seeds to ensure that farmers got the right type they wanted.
He said the Company also deals in a collaborative manner with its customers to grow their businesses and not strictly on business lines.