PRESIDENT John Agyekum Kufour has announced that the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) would be rolled out to cover more districts in the Brong Ahafo and Western regions as well as other parts of the country.
The President who made the announcement at the 24th Farmers Day celebration in Techiman on Friday disclosed that the 30 districts currently benefiting from the package were all within the costal and Volta belts.
He explained that the 30 districts were selected based on their agricultural potentials.
According to the President, the MCA was not a loan to the nation and that it was given to the country for investment in the agricultural sector based on the good performance of his administration. The United States government is the sponsor of the $550 million facility, which is being managed by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA).
Osaahene Kwaku Atakyi, the president of the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs who is also the paramount chief of Kukuom Traditional Area, in a speech, appealed to the President to extend the MCA to cover some areas in the Brong Ahafo region, particularly the savanna areas where most of the country's food crops were produced.
President Kufour disclosed that part of the money was also used to construct some feeder roads to facilitate easy transporting of foodstuff to market centres.
The President applauded farmers and fishermen in the country for the giant strides made in the agricultural sector under his government.
He revealed that the cocoa sector in particular had seen tremendous growth, producing over 700,000 tonnes in the last four years.
He attributed the high yield to the application of science, technology and other best practices, adding, “It is possible to achieve a new target of 1 million tonnes per annum by the end of the decade”.
Commenting on the fishing sector, the President hinted that the Ministry of Fisheries was set up to modernize the industry and give it the high profile it deserves.
He added that a policy on national fisheries and aquaculture had been put in place to regulate activities in the sector.
The President mentioned that funds have been sourced for the construction of six modern fishing harbours with landing sites, cold stores and refrigeration facilities at strategic points along the nation's coast, saying work would soon commence on the project.
President Kufour continued that equipment and fishing vessels would be modernized with the introduction of fiberglass in the construction of motorized canoes and fishing vessels by the support of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB).
Fifty farmers across the country were awarded for their contribution to the economy.
Ten agriculture extension agents were also honoured for their services.
Dr. Simon Sako, a 54-year-old medical officer from Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo region was adjudged the 2008 National Best Farmer.
Dr. Sako is the owner of Emil Farms in Wenchi where he cultivates a variety of foodstuffs and rears livestock on a 2000-acre land.
For his prize he would have a three-bedroom house built for him in an area of his choice and a double cabin pick-up.
The 1st runner-up was 45-year-old Madam Janet Nyabase from the Upper East region who received a Nissan double cabin pick-up, while a 57-year-old civil servant, Mr. Morris Derry from Wa in the Upper West region came as the 2nd runner-up and had as his prize a tractor and its accessories.
Other best farmers in cocoa, fishing and poultry were also given pick-ups sponsored by the Ghana Cocoa Board, Stanbic Bank and UT financial Services respectively.
From S.Y. Kewura & Emelia Abbey, Techiman