MOFA acquires land for Youth in Agriculture

By GNA
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By GNA

6/30/2009 9:56:56 PM -

Accra, June 30, GNA - The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has acquired a total of 14,186 hectares of land for the cultivation of staple crops to ensure food security.

In all 6,571 hectares of land was acquired in the Northern Region, 2,730 hectares in Upper East Region, 1,315 in Upper West Region, 2,370 in Brong Ahafo Region, 400 hectares in Central Region, and 800 hectares in Ashanti Region.

Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, who took his turn at the Meet-The-Press series in Accra on Tuesday, said crops such as maize grain and seed, rice grain, Jasmine seed, sorghum grain and seed and soybean would be grown in these areas.

He said Upper West Region was expected to cultivate 1,015 hectares of maize and 300 hectares of rice while Upper East Region would cultivate 2,030 hectares of rice and 700 hectares of soybean.

Brong Ahafo Region would cultivate a total of 1,200 hectares of maize, 870 hectares of rice and 300 hectares of soybean, while Northern Region would cultivate 500 hectares of soybean.

Ashanti Region and Central Region would also cultivate 800 hectares and 400 hectares of maize respectively.

Mr Ahwoi said MOFA had estimated to produce about 41,728 metric tons from Youth in Agriculture block farming with a projected employment of about 60,349 youth in the coverage areas.

The Minister said there was the need for the country to diversify into cash crops, livestock and value addition to ensure the growth of incomes in the agricultural sector and reduce income variability.

In that regard, he said, farmers would be encouraged, in addition to their food crop farming activities, to diversify into the cultivation of cash crops and livestock for which they had comparative and competitive advantage.

He said the ministry was training and supporting companies and individuals to add value through packaging, drying and juice production of horticultural crops such as pineapple, orange, mango and papaya.

'We will also develop value chains for industrial crops such as cotton, cashew, rubber, soybean.'

Mr Ahwoi said the ministry would collaborate with the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to find solutions for the development of sheanuts and dawadawa industries and facilitate the harvesting and processing of the crops by vulnerable groups.

On development of the country's livestock sector, the Minister said 16 boreholes and 32 dugouts would be provided for livestock watering under the Livestock Development Project, in the Northern Sector.

Mr Ahwoi said about 1,000 small ruminant farmers would be trained on hay/silage conservation and utilization and in the use of urea to treat crop residue while 500 hectares of communal grazing land in important livestock producing districts would be sown to increase fodder production.

He announced that 50,000 improved breeds of small ruminants would be distributed to farmers throughout the country for genetic improvement of the local stock while 10,000 parent stocks of pigs would be distributed to farmers.

The Minister said 200,000 improved cockerels would also be distributed to households.

Plans are underway to contract hatchery operators to hatch two million chicks for distribution to farmers for household rearing and guinea fowl farmers in the three northern regions.

On the fisheries sub-sector, he said farmers were being trained in the use of cage fish farming and to date 40 out of 240 cages had been constructed and distributed to farmers.

He said each cage was expected to produce 15 metric tons of fish annually, adding 'cage fish farming is a very lucrative business and I will urge the public to go in there.'

The Minister said to safeguard the country's coast, the government had ordered two patrol boats to augment the fleet of Ghana Navy ships to protect the maritime domain and enforce fisheries laws among other things.

Mr Ahwoi announced that funds have been released for the formation of 10 community-based fisheries management committees, to educate fishermen on fisheries law, regulations, bye laws, HIV/AIDS and book-keeping to enable them to comply with the laws and also manage their lives.

GNA

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