Accra June 30, GNA - Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, said the introduction of the Block-Farming (BF) concept had resulted in 10 percent increase in maize production in the country.
"This direct intervention led to a quantum leap in the production of maize from the annual average of 1.47 million tonnes to 1.62 million tonnes in 2009," he said.
Mr. Ahwoi who was answering questions on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, explained that the BF concept put farmers with geographically contiguous plots together and provide them tractor services, improved seeds, agro-chemicals, fertilizers and extension services.
He said following the increase in production, the Ministry had placed 4000 metric tonnes of maize made up of recoveries from BF farmers in reserves at various warehouses across the country.
Mr. Ahwoi noted that the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFFCO) was currently buying all excess stocks of paddy rice and maize from farmers.
He said so far NAFFCO has bought 8500 metric tonnes of paddy rice and 100 metric tonnes of recoveries from the BF farmers and that the exercise was ongoing.
Mr. Ahwoi said "This aggressive intervention by NAFFCO has produced the additional benefit of reducing post harvest losses, thus freeing farmers' capital by giving them the fund needed to invest in further increased production this year".
On irrigation, the Minister said government was in the process of engaging a contractor to de-silt 12 irrigation reservoirs in the country including the Okyereko Irrigation facility which according to Mr Ekow Panyin Okyere Eduamoah Member of Parliament for Gomoa East, needed expansion.
Mr. Ahwoi noted that currently the canal connecting the Ayensu River to the pump in-take point and the main reservoir of the Okyereko irrigation facility were heavily silted.