The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) on Monday held the fourth National Farmers Forum in Accra.
The forum, which was initiated in 2010, is to enhance the engagement and interactions between farmers, the country’s political leadership, MOFA, the private sector and the public on issues of agricultural development.
The 2013 National Farmers Celebration is on the theme: “Reducing Post-Harvest Losses for Sustainable Food Security and Nutrition.”
Mr Kofi Humado, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said the forum was to promote and enhance information sharing and to create opportunities for building partnership among various stakeholders.
He said it was the vision of the government to modernize the food and agriculture sector to transform the economy, improve food security and nutrition as well as enhance incomes and livelihoods of the farmers.
He said the policy and its associated investment plan, the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) 2011-2015, had been endorsed by key stakeholders in the sector and it provided a broad framework for planning of investments to achieve the country’s agricultural vision.
Mr Humado said MOFA, through the METASIP, was addressing six programme areas which are covering the increase in food security and emergency preparedness, increase income growth, increase competitiveness and enhancing integration into domestic and international markets, sustainable management of land and environment.
“It is also covering the increase in application of science and technology in food and agriculture development and improved institutional coordination and strengthening of partnership.”
He said due to the efforts of farmers, the country was self- sufficient in the production of major staples except rice and poultry products, although for rice, the self sufficiency gap has increased from 30 per cent in 2006 to 60 per cent presently.
Mr Humado said the Ministry’s plans in the coming years was to focus on the development of Farmer Based Organisations as agribusiness entities, irrigation development especially for smallholders, roll out of Graduate Youth in Agriculture programme and seed and planting material development and distribution of farmers, among others.
Mr Nayon Bilijo, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, said Ghana was among the highest fish consuming countries in the world with a per capita consumption of between 23-25 kilograms whiles the world average is 13.
He said the challenge was that the country had not been able to meet its requirement in fish production, adding that the country’s fish demand in 2012 was estimated at 968,000 metric tons whiles fish production was 486 metric tons representing 50.2 per cent of the requirement.
Mr Bilijo said the Ministry was constructing the Turnkey Fish Processing Plant at Elmina in the Central Region at an estimated cost of $7.48 million with an Indian Exim Bank loan facility which when completed would have the descaling, gutting, filleting and packing of fish.
He said the Ministry was collaborating with the Ghana Food and Drug Authority to address the issue of fish safety.
Mr Stephen Kpordzih, Managing Director of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), said the Bank would continue to support the organization of the forum because of its determination for improved action towards the development of agriculture in Ghana.
“As a bank, we cannot but recognize the implication of post-harvest losses to loan impairment on the part of our core clients, we are key in the financing of the post-harvest sector, including all points in the value chain,” he said.