... Each allocated up to 100 acres of land The government has decided to allocate part of its land banks meant for oil palm and cassava plantations to Members of Parliament, ministers and deputy ministers to go into large-scale farming. It said each interested person would be allocated up to 100 acres of land and also provided with further support in the form of seedlings, clearing of the land, planting and maintenance of the farms over the next four years. The Minister of Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives (PSI), Mr Kwamena Bartels, who announced this when his ministry took its turn at the weekly "Meet-the-Press" series in Accra yesterday, said “the idea is to give respectability to farming, to send a clear message to our people that we need to take farming very seriously and to show that farming is a profitable venture”. He said beneficiaries of the initiative were expected to start paying back government's investment in the project in the fifth year. "We are also looking at the possibility of extending this initiative to the PSI on salt, garment and textiles,”Mr Bartels said. He said a consortium of three companies were to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to set up three cassava starch processing companies at Atebubu,Amantin and Ejura. These companies,he said,would process 20,000 metric tonnes of cassava a year,adding that they also hoped to establish 20 such plants all of 20,000 metric tonnes capacities to process cassava into food-grade starch and into ethanol for the petroleum industry. On the garments and textiles sector,Mr Bartels said under the PSI, $4 million worth of garments had been manufactured while a centre had also been set up in Accra to train 300 machine operators each month. He asked those in the textile industry to complement the government' s efforts at making the sector more vibrant by improving on their managerial skills,as well as replacing old machinery. Mr Bartels said the more such companies used obsolete equipment,the more their cost of production went up, adding that that was bound to affect their operational cost and make their products uncompetitive. He said the managers and board of the Venture Capital Fund,a fund meant to support small-scale enterprises, would be put in place by the end of the month. Mr Bartels said the fund had yielded up to ¢200 billion and gave the assurance that with the managers and board in place,the money would be disbursed to the beneficiaries.