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24.08.2005 Regional News

Youth urged to go into farming - Debrah


Accra, Aug.24, GNA - Mr Ernest A. Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Wednesday appealed to the youth to take agriculture as a business to serve as security for their economic survival and development.

He has also appealed to traditional rulers and landowners to release large tracts of land to the youth in their communities for farming purposes.

Mr Debrah made the appeal during the launch of the 21st Farmers Day celebration in Accra under the theme: " Agricultural Production and Productivity: The Key to Growth and Poverty Reduction". This year's celebration is scheduled for December 2, in the Upper East Region. The best Farmer would be honoured with a three-bedroom fully furnished house valued at about 500 million cedis donated by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB).

Mr Debrah said youth groups interested in farming as a business have not been encouraged to do so due to difficulty in accessing land adding; "access to land has also deterred investors from going into large-scale commercial farming".

The Ministry, he said would assist about 20,000 small-scale farmers to cultivate 8,100 hectares of maize during the minor season as the Ministry's contribution to make up for the loss in the major season. The youth would also be assisted during this minor season in the production of rice, soyabean and sorghum in a pilot project. "In so doing, we are working with fertilizer and agro-chemical providers to supply at the appropriate time and in good quantities to farmers," adding that Extensions Officers would be encouraged to monitor the farmers under this pilot project.

"We expect that farmers will be able to achieve about three times their current levels of production," Mr Debrah said. Mr Debrah said in the Ministry's determination to achieve increased agricultural production and productivity, co-operation and assistance from all stakeholders such as the corporate community, non-governmental organisations, well-meaning individuals and the development partners was needed.

Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Fisheries, said there was the need for more investment in farming and fishing if the nation was to attain food and fish security.

She, however, sounded a note of caution to fishermen who were still using unorthodox methods to attract fish in their fishing operations saying it was detrimental to the total development of the industry.

She said the seasonality of fishing activities in the country demanded that programmes be put in place to provide alternative livelihoods for the fisher folks.

"These programmes can also help to ease the fishing pressure on the fish resources in the sea and the Volta Lake," Mrs Asmah said. She expressed the hope that the youth would take up aquaculture to enable them to earn a living as well as to help to meet the fish requirement of the population at large.

Mr Alan Kyeremanten, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative, said Ghana could not became an industrialised country unless agriculture was taken more seriously than was being done now.

"In the same way we cannot achieve a sustainable agriculture without engaging in industrialisation", adding that agriculture and industrialization were symbiotic.

Mr Clement Eledi, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, said Government's budgetary allocation to the Ministry for National Farmers" Day activities had over the years declined and there was the need for the private sector and the public to show goodwill by donating towards the Farmers' Day celebrations.

The selected farmers would converge in Accra on November 27, to tour places of interest within Accra-Tema and end up with a cocktail by MOFA, before proceeding to the Upper East Region for the celebration.