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30.04.2011 General News

Embrace Agric revolution; dump the cutlass and hoe - Minister

By GNA
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April 30, 2011
Accra , April 30, GNA - Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, said Ghana can surely revolutionalise agriculture when farmers transform subsistence farming into modern agriculture.

" Ghana must change and change drastically and radically from the old cutlass and hoe or slash and burn method of agriculture to adopt scientific methods of agriculture," he advised.

He said the NDC government has from 2008 pursued this agenda, which was bringing giant transformation to the agriculture sector.

Mr Ahwoi was speaking in Accra at the Policy Fair on the topic: "Assessing Ghana's Efforts towards Agricultural Revolution."

The programme, which started on April 26, ends on Saturday April 30.

Mr Ahwoi said: "We have not gone to the extreme, but we are in the process of moving away from the cut and burn method to total mechanisation."

He said for Ghana to move into total mechanisation of agriculture, the size of farm land was critical because the one or two acre holdings is not economically viable for farmers to make enough profit to cater for themselves and their families.

Therefore, farmers must have realistic land sizes to be able to make great gains.

He noted that though all governments put some premium on agriculture, the interest of each government differ, adding that at the time the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government came to office, farmers had no access to viable seeds and the irrigation system in the country had totally collapsed.

Mr Ahwoi stressed that the system of keeping part of harvest as seeds for planting during the next season was not best practice.

He explained that the government had made more efforts in fixing these problems by repairing all irrigation facilities in the country, providing farmers with improved seeds, establishing agricultural mechanisation centres in about 85 districts across the country and liberalising fertiliser access to all farmers.

He said fertilizer allocation for 2008 was 43,000 metric tonnes at GH¢20 million, in 2009 it was 72,000 metric tonnes at GH ¢34 million while in 2010 it was 91,000 metric tonnes at GH ¢30 million. In 2011, it is 15,000 metric tonnes at GH¢30 million.

He said the government also invigorated the Youth in Agriculture Programme, which he described as an incubation programme, which weaned young farmers to go into their own farming.

He said prices of food had been stabilised and that Ghana had food sufficiency which had stabilise prices of food on the local market.

He noted that the rice industry in the North had absorbed about 5000 women who boil the rice for milling, adding that, some arrangement had been made to return about 300 Kayaye from Accra and Kumasi to work there.

He said interest in the agricultural education waned to its lowest ebb as most facilities at the agricultural-based institutions were left without attention until the current NDC government rehabilitated the facilities to revive and keep them afloat.

According to Mr Ahwoi, the best incentive to the farmer is, however, the Farmers' Day which honours farmers for their good work annually.

Mr Philip Abayori, President of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association, said the government must set up an Agriculture Authority that would move agriculture from the grips of the government so that the Agriculture Ministry concentrates on policy formulation and implementation.

"The Agric Ministry must develop three crops from each region and promote them vigorously," he suggested.

Mr Goosie Tanoh, one time Presidential Candidate for the Reform Party, said all efforts must be made to raise educated farmers and called on farmers to change their old ways of practicing their trade.

GNA

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