The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, says plans are far advanced for the revamping of existing farming mechanisation centres in the country.
With support from the private sector, the move is expected to establish, manage and provide affordable mechanisation services to farmers as well as set up of greenhouse facilities and train the youth in related management.
“The initiatives are all geared towards making agriculture attractive to the youth as a sustainable means of livelihood,” Ms Botchwey said.
The Foreign Minister made this known when the Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Ghana, Ms Joycelyn Gayden Brown Hall, called on her at the ministry to present her Letters of Credence.
Ms Botchwey noted that the government attaches great importance to development in the agricultural sector due to its relevance to poverty reduction, which is key to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She elaborated on the government flagship initiatives such as the ‘Planting for Food & Jobs’, ‘Rearing for Food & Jobs’ and ‘One Village One Dam’, which are all primarily aimed at increasing food production, addressing the issue of food insecurity in the country as well as the creation of jobs.
“Government’s value addition strategy is aimed at rapidly ramping up agro-processing, supplementary to ongoing initiatives to boost food security such as the reduction in retail prices of seeds, provision of subsidized fertilizer, hybrid seeds and agrochemicals to over 42,000 smallholder farmers nationwide,” she said.
“The implementation of a warehouse receipt systems for farmers is to assist them to store their harvest, in anticipation of an appreciated price to protect farmers in this period of COVID-19,” Ms Botchwey added.
She further informed the FAO Representative that in order for the government to achieve the UN recommended ratio of one extension officer to 500 farmers, the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) has been established.
She explained that it has helped to bridge that gap and is currently contributing to the improvement of agricultural production and modernization of agriculture through education to ensure the maximisation of profit to local farmers.
Additionally, the Foreign Minister noted that the state of Ghana’s agricultural sector has largely been influenced by the valuable technical assistance and advice proffered in the implementation of programmes and projects in the area of food and agriculture, nutrition and natural resource management.
She, therefore, commended FAO for the excellent partnership with Ghana and observed that the physical absence of the Country Representative notwithstanding, the FAO Office had functioned effectively and ably supported the government’s implementation of policies despite the difficult challenges posed by the pandemic.
Ms Botchwey was optimistic that under Ms Gayden Brown Hall, the FAO Ghana Office will scale-up its collaboration with the relevant MDAs to significantly enhance the benefits that the Government and people of Ghana derive from that vital sector.
She assured the FAO Country Representative of the government’s full support and cooperation during her tenure.
Ms Brown Hall was accompanied by FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa, Mr Abebe Haile-Gabriel GebreYohannes.