The programme, which targeted 200,000 farmers in its maiden year, registered 201,620, which exceeded the target.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture In-charge of Horticulture, Mr George Oduro announced this at Sandema in the Builsa North District of the Upper East Region.
Mr Oduro who was in the region to assess the impact made by the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme said since its inception in 2017 it had employed 745,000, including 1,200 agriculture extension officers.
He said government had plans to expand the programme this year, and disclosed that the Ministry would as well expand the number of extension officers and add more crops to the existing five crops under the programme.
Mr Oduro said his Ministry was well resourced now and ready to control the outbreak of diseases and pests including; fall armyworm to ensure that the “planting for Food and Jobs” was successful during the 2018 farming season. “We have made adequate preparations to control the diseases. We have enough chemicals to battle them.”
According to the Deputy Minister, the Agriculture Ministry had its own budget for 2018 unlike in 2017 where there was no budget for it to adequately attack the pests when they invaded huge hectres of farmlands in the country.
Responding to concerns on ready market for the farmers’ to sell their produce, Mr Oduro said MOFA had registered 1,303 aggregators across the country “to buy directly from the farmers to the national buffer stock warehouse for distribution to schools across the country”.
Some of the selected farmers who spoke to the media lauded the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme even though the region recorded drought last year.
Mr Solomon Akanpisi the Manager of Akandem farms limited, at Sandema, said but for the timely intervention of the programme that enabled farmers to have access to affordable and quality seeds, seedlings and other farm inputs such as subsidised fertilizers, he would have quitted farming as the prices of seeds and fertilizers were too high at the time.
Another farmer, Mr Samuel Abiayega described the gains he made when he enrolled on the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme as unprecedented, and said “I cultivated 76 acres of maize in 2016 and had 750 bags, however, last year, I had 1,400 bags of maize from the same acreage”