Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), on Monday met with National and Regional Directors, Project Coordinators and Heads of subvented units under the Ministry to have a first hand knowledge of the staff he would be working with.
Mr Ahwoi called for their maximum cooperation, dedication and support to enable him to implement the government's agenda for the Ministry and also ensure that the agriculture sector became viable for maximum impact on the economy.
He said it was important to make the farmer the centre of importance as far as agriculture was concerned, giving them maximum support in areas, including extension services, financial assistance and national recognition to encourage them and enhance their livelihood.
Mr Ahwoi stated that, having agriculture as a major contributor to the nation's Gross Domestic Product, Ghana should have gone far ahead than having remained an agricultural economy 52 years after independence.
“Ghana needs to move ahead from being an agricultural economy into an industrialised one, 52 years after its independence. We cannot afford to remain where we are currently, especially as agriculture continues to be the major drive and contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.”
He said though agriculture formed about 65 per cent to the livelihood of the people, it was unfortunate that; “we cannot even eat what we grow locally, but prefer imported products from our neighbouring countries and beyond”.
Mr Ahwoi said if well utilised, the vast lands that lay fallow across the country, could be turned into useful agricultural farms to produce food to ensure food security.
He said the Ministry would tackle shortage of Agricultural Extension Officers, which currently stood at one Officer to 1,000 farmers, instead of 500.
Mr Ahwoi said the Fisheries Directorate would also be well equipped to enable it to operate effectively, while addressing the concerns that had been raised by fishermen, concerning the issue of premix fuel and pair trawling among, other things.
The Minister also urged all heads under the Ministry to set operational goals and establish stringent measures to ensure proper coordination of programmes, while ensuring monitoring and evaluation.
“You must also collaborate with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in the sector to help eliminate duplication of programmes.”
He said the government intended to eliminate any form of wastage that prevented quality production. Therefore appropriate technologies must be adopted in running the various projects under the Ministry for the realisation of growth.
Mr Ahwoi further urged all heads under the various divisions under the Ministry to encourage their staff to upgrade themselves and said the Ministry would collaborate with the Ministry of Education to ensure that all schools maintained farms as happened in the past.
He also said a number of projects, including the Ejura Farms, which were not operational, would be reviewed.
Mr Gyiele Nurah, Chief Director, MOFA, welcomed the Minister and assured him of maximum cooperation and support.