VICE PRESIDENT Alhaji Aliu Mahama has dropped a hint that, beginning next year till 2008, the Government would implement a number of key policy interventions, under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) programme, as a way of over-coming the many problems being encountered in the agricultural sector, reports Shiella Sackey.
The constraints he noted, include appropriate financing, value addition, and improved marketing, as well as the promotion of the culture of community-based irrigation, to ensure the availability of an all-year water supply, for farming. The Vice President dropped the hint, at a welcome cocktail, in honour of award-winning farmers in this year's National Farmers Day event, at the forecourt of Parliament House, yesterday.
This year marks the 21st National Farmers Day celebration and falls on Friday, December 2, at Navrongo, in the Upper East Region, on theme: “Agricultural Production and Productivity- The key To Growth and Poverty Reduction.”
The theme, the Vice President observed, fits into the country's development blueprint, since it places special emphasis on agriculture, to ensure, the link between it and industry, was strengthened.
This, he noted, would enable the country to achieve a middle income agro-based economy, by 2015.
Agriculture, the Vice President underscored has been targeted to lead the growth of the national economy to achieve the middle-income status. He, however, pointed out, to achieve this feat, agriculture should grow by 14 per cent, per annum, from the current growth rate of 7.5 per cent. Alhaji Aliu Mahama mentioned, the constraints militating against high yields are, unreliable rainfall, post-harvest losses, transportation and marketing, as well as lack of affordable credit.
Farmers and fishermen, he lamented, live in rural areas, where they have no access to basic necessities, as potable water, health facilities, and good roads, among others, in spite of their immense contributions toward the economy, and assured that, government would remedy the situation, in favour of the farmers and fishermen.
The Vice President congratulated the award winners on their feat, and encouraged them to continue with the hard-work, and to, also, impart their knowledge to other farmers.
The Minister of Agriculture, Ernest Debrah, urged the farmers and fishermen to continue feeding the nation, assuring them, government would continue to support them to ensure, they move the economy forward, through their untiring efforts.
While welcoming the award-winning farmers and fishermen, from various parts of the country, to Accra, the acting managing director of the Agricultural Development Bank, Mr Boakye-Agyman, disclosed, the National Best Farmer would be given a 3-bedroom house, and other facilities. He noted, farmers continue to encounter problems when accessing credit, adding that, this could be solved, when they forward groups, and worked closely with the bank.
Present at the function were the Minister of Fisheries, Hon Mrs. Gladys Asmah, the Minister of Private Sector Development, Hon Kwamena Bartels, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Nii Okai Hammond, among others.