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10.11.2005 Business & Finance

BUDGET: Government assists agriculture sector

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Accra, Nov.10, GNA - The Government made significant progress in efforts to assist farmers with essential farming inputs, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning announced in Accra on Thursday.

He said the ratio of tractors to farmers improved by over 20 per cent from 2003 to 2004 and additionally, a total of 999 dug outs for irrigation had been completed by the end of 2004. Presenting the 2006 Budget statement to Parliament on Thursday Mr Baah-Wiredu said under the Agricultural Financing Scheme Credit, 236 production and marketing groups were assisted during this year's major crop season.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said a further credit was extended to 258 cashew farming and processing groups in eight districts under the Cashew Development Project.

He said the special programme for food security was designed and implemented to address constraints of small farmers. Mr Baah-Wiredu said in the outlook for 2006, agriculture constituted 40 per cent of Ghana's GDP and over 60 per cent of employment.

Additionally, he said, over 50 per cent of the Consumer Price Index was attributable to food, therefore, increased productivity in the agricultural sector would help in increasing employment and keep food prices low and improve food security.

The Minister of Finance said the agricultural sector would focus on some interventions that would include improved production, harvesting, storage and processing methods.

Others were, enhanced marketing of agricultural produce/products; acceleration of the provision of irrigation infrastructure; enhancement of access to credit and inputs for agriculture.

The rest were, promotion of selective crop development; modernization of livestock development; increased access to extension services and mechanized agriculture; and provision of infrastructure for aquaculture.