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11.05.2004 General News

President Kufuor inaugurates first batch of tractors

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Accra, May 11, GNA- President John Agyekum Kufuor on Tuesday defied the rains to inaugurate the first batch of 200 farm track 60 horse power tractors to augment the number of tractors in the country.

The intensity of the rains disrupted the ceremony as the dignitaries and audience ran into their vehicles to end the programme abruptly at the Trade Fair Centre at La, Accra.

Mr Joseph Kwasi Boamah, Director of Engineering of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) briefed newsmen on the inauguration. He said the first batch of tractors valued at about three million dollars to be paid from the HIPC Fund was part of an agreement signed between the Governments of Ghana and India to provide about 1,000 tractors at an estimated cost of about 20 million dollars.

Mr Boamah said as part of the Government's desire to improve agriculture, the Ministy had instituted a policy to modernise agriculture and make it attractive to the youth.

The Director of Engineering said an order for the remaining 800 tractors had been made and was expected from India within the next three to four months.

He said with the availability of the tractors fitted with ploughs and harrows land preparation would improve to boost agricultural productivity.

Mr Boamah said 15 of tractors had been allocated to the Ghana Prison Service to assist in their farming activities while district assemblies would also be provided with tractors to enhance agricultural activities.

" The tractors would be sold to beneficiaries and the monies realised used to set up a revolving fund to sustain the programme to serve other farmers, institutions and communities", he said.

He said the Ministry had enough spare parts for the tractors and in consultation with other institutions about 20 per cent of the spare parts could be produced locally.

Mr Boamah said the next major problem facing agriculture in the country was post-production management of farm produce. To tackle the problem, he said, there was the need to bring in machinery and equipment that would help increase the shelf-life of agricultural produce.

Mr Boamah said the Ministry therefore, drew up a programme under which the Government had released about 21 Billion cedis under the HIPC Fund to improve agriculture.

He said under the programme about 50 rice trashers had been fabricated locally with Ghanaian artisans, 700 metallic community silos with a capacity of a tonne had been provided to address the household post harvest losses.

Mr Boamah said under the President's Special Initiative (PSI) on oil palm, about 50 palm fruit digesters and 50 single press for palm oil had been produced to promote the industry.

The Director of Engineering said concerning aflatoxin in production of grains especially maize, 50 mechanical maize driers in addition to 100 solar driers had been produced for distribution to farmers in the country.

He said 50 wind pumps for irrigation had been produced and rigs to drill boreholes for irrigation were expected to arrive in the country by the end of May.