Government employs 1,000 graduates as extension officers to improve agriculture – Minister
The government has employed 1000 graduates, who graduated between 2011 and 2015 from the five colleges of agriculture in the country as extension officers to assist farmers under the planting for food and job policy to be rolled out this year.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, told journalists in an interview at a summit organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Feed the Future Agriculture Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE), that there are less than 2,600 extension officers across the country to assist farmers.
And out of the less than 2,600 extension officers available currently, about 80 per cent are going on pension in the next two to three years. Meanwhile, between 2011 and 2015 all the five Colleges of Agriculture produced about 3,200 graduates who are unemployed and none of them were recruited.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto said, the role of extension officers in the agriculture industry cannot be underestimated as they are the link between technology and the farmers.
“If the extension officer is not available, there is a break and we are rectifying that by employing the thousands of unemployed graduates,” he said.
Speaking on why five major crops is the focus under the policy, he said, “These crops were strategically selected especially maize and soya to feed the poultry industry.”
He noted that about 75 per cent of the cost of producing poultry is attributed to feed and at the moment, most of the feed components of maize for poultry are imported.
“We will have an agreement the with the Poultry Farmers Association so that we will buy the surpluses and take over poultry feed production to enhance poultry production.”
“We spend between $340 million and $400 million on the importation of poultry meat alone and they are not even quality. Some of these poultry meat were frozen about 10 years ago and I don’t think it is the best”
Speaking at the summit, Mr Steven Hendrix, USAID/Ghana Deputy Mission Director, expressed his outfit’s readiness to assist the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the government and agribusinesses to stimulate sustained agricultural growth.
The summit was organized to serve as platform for USAID and its partners to share successes, examine challenges, and explore opportunities for greater partnerships.
By Pamela Ofori-Boateng
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