President Mahama promises to hinge Ghana’s economy on modernised agriculture

President John Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama on Friday pledged that his government would transform Ghana’s economy using agricultural modernisation as a tool, when re-elected for another four-year term.

He added that government would implement the Food and Agricultural Development Policy and the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan as the two main strategies to achieve agricultural modernisation.

Speaking at the 28th National Farmers’ Day Celebration organised at Abokobi in the Ga East District of Accra, President Mahama said the strategy would include transformation of the agricultural sector from a resource-based to a technology-based industry and would lay emphasis on irrigation agriculture.

He added that the Government would provide subsidies for improved seeds, grade breeder and stocks, pesticides, fertilisers, machinery and other inputs.

President Mahama said promotion of selected crops for food security and exports, establishments of industries with backwards linkages to agricultural resource base, construction of storage facilities, silos, cold storage units and modern markets in strategic locations to minimise post-harvest losses, would be other strategies his Government would adopt.

“Implementation of the Ghana Commercial Agricultural Programme, particularly as it relates to strengthening investment promotion infrastructure, facilitating secure access to land, and securing public private partnerships and smallholder linkages in the Accra plains, the Savannah Accelerated Development Project Zone, Afram Plains and other deprived areas,” he added.

President Mahama noted that his government had achieved a lot in the agricultural sector adding that “productivity enhancing strategies including timely availability of needed farm inputs, opening up of marketing opportunities and scaling up credit support for agricultural purposes,” were responsible for the achievements.

He said rice production had increased from 181,000 metric tonnes of milled rice in 2008 to 295,000 metric tonnes in 2010, stressing that it was a 63 per cent increase over the 2008 figure.

President Mahama said: “Ghana now produces 53 per cent of her rice requirement locally up from 30 per cent in 2009 and has reduced rice imports by 30 per cent.

“Maize production has increased from 1.5 million metric tonnes in 2008 to 1.9 metric tonnes in 2010 and 1.7 million metric tonnes in 2011; cassava rose from 11.4 million tonnes in 2008 to 14.2 million metric tonnes in 2011,” he added.

President Mahama said the cotton industry which had collapsed had been revived adding that in 2010 and 2011 season, 200,000 hectares of land was cropped by 23000 farmers to produce 17000 metric tonnes of seed cotton with an estimated lint production of 6655 metric tonnes.

He said that fish production increased by 17 per cent from 100,935 metric tonnes to 118,504 metric tonnes.

“Of the meat production poultry increased by 32 per cent from 31,056 metric tonnes in 2008 to 41,008 metric tonnes in 2011.”

President Mahama said: “Fish production increased by 1.3 per cent from 416,552 metric tonnes in 2008 to 421,898 metric tonnes in 2011 of which aquaculture production increased from 7,200 metric tonnes in 2009 to 19,091 metric tonnes in 2011.”

He added that export earnings from fish and fishery products increased from $158 million to $256 million for the same period.

President Mahama commended farmers and fishers for their hard work, which contributed towards the achievements.

Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture said government had resourced the Ministry to undertake critical interventions including land administration and management, agricultural mechanisation, fertiliser subsidy programme, national buffer stock company, youth in agriculture block.

He said the interventions would open up the sector to modern business culture and technology adoption and to make Ghana’s agriculture and farmers competitive in the global market.

Mr Ahwoi commended the 80 sponsors for their contribution and support towards the celebration.

Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, Greater Accra Regional Minister called for capacity building programmes for farmers and fishers to enable them compete globally.

Meanwhile an Accra-based farmer Lemuel K. Martey of Mannah Farms Limited was adjudged the National Best Farmer for 2012.

He is expected to receive a three-bedroom house and a pick-up vehicle.

The First Runner up went to 51-year-old Enoch Elder Tei from the Greater Accra Region, while Ellen Tia, a 28 year-old from the Upper East Region was adjudged the Second Runner up.

Kwamina Oboh from the Central Region was the National Best Fisherman.

In all, 74 farmers and fishers were honoured for their outstanding contribution to the economy.

The theme for the 28th Edition of the Farmer’s Day Farmer’s Day celebration was: “Grow more food: strengthening farmer based organisations for market place bargaining power”.

Source: GNA

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