Veep addresses 23rd National Farmers Day in Wa
Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama on Friday addressed the 23rd National Farmers Day, in Wa, in the Upper West Region, where he announced plans by Government to provide seed support to farmers to facilitate food production during the 2008 farming season.
He said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had also revised the Food and Agriculture Sector Policy to modernize agriculture to provide the critical linkage between agriculture and industry.
The Day, being observed during the last month of the country's Golden Jubilee anniversary celebrations is on the theme: "Ghana @ 50: Progress and Challenges of Sustainable Agriculture Development."
The annual event, which falls in the first week of every December, was instituted by the erstwhile Peoples National Defence Council to pay tribute to the outstanding contributions of farmers and fishermen to the national development efforts.
Vice President Mahama expressed the need for the country to boost domestic investment in the agro-industrial complex and challenged farmers and the private sector to proactively develop and provide adequate resources for the venture.
He touched on the recent drought and subsequent flooding in the Northern, Upper East regions, where about 97,244 hectares of farms were destroyed with a potential loss of about 257,076 metric tonnes of food.
Many roads and bridges linking farming communities were washed by the floods while about 39 irrigation dams, houses, livestock and other property were destroyed.
Vice President Mahama said the affected farmers would benefit from a package to re-plant their farms.
Despite these setbacks, he said agriculture continued to be the largest sector of the economy.
Vice President Mahama said agriculture provided about 36 percent of the total Gross Domestic Product and employed an estimated 50.6 percent of the economically active population.
"Furthermore, the sector contributes about 52 per cent of the total foreign exchange earnings and about 10 per cent of government revenue."
Vice President Mahama said between 2001 and 2006, the agriculture sector had steadily grown from 2.1 per cent to 6.5 per cent.
"As a result of this hard work, I am proud to acknowledge that Ghana is reported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to be the only country South of the Sahara that had already reduced hunger by 50 per cent up to 2006, 10 years before the target date of 2015."
Vice President Mahama said despite these sterling achievements, government's effort to create the environment for sustainable growth and development were being constrained by a number of challenges.
These include rigid land tenure system, over-reliance on erratic rainfall, inadequate marketing, post-harvest management, poor access to inputs, limited financial services, low use of modern technologies and an ageing farm labour force.
Vice President Mahama announced that feasibility work and designing of two proposed fishing harbours and 10 landing sites initiated by the Ministry of Fisheries is ready.
He said funding arrangements were far advanced for the commencement of the projects.
Vice President Mahama said the Ministry had also completed arrangements for the construction of ice plants and refrigeration facilities in some fishing communities early next year with funding from the second Spanish Protocol arrangement.