23rd July 2024

Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto,

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has made a strong case for a $105 million facility from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), under the United Nations, to boost the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative.

The facility, under Cycle Two of the Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Programme (GASIP), is to support and improve the capacity of smallholder farmers.

The request follows the successful completion of phase one of the programme in 2019. The phase one saw the disbursement of over 60 per cent of the funds to beneficiary farmers within six months under a new team put in place by the Minister.

More support

The Ministry, according to Dr Afriyie Akoto, is also seeking the immediate release of $30 million to consolidate the gains made in 2019 and an additional $75 million for long term investment.

The Minister made the request during a meeting with the president of IFAD, Mr Gilbert Houngbo, at the just-ended 43rd Session of the Governing Council of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO-UN).

According to the Minister, the timely release of the facility will not only help Ghana consolidate its gains made under the PFJ over the last three years, but will also help meet the demand of over 50,000 smallholder farmers who could not be supported last year.

Achievement

Dr Akoto Afriyie pointed out that before the advent of the current administration, the GASIP fund had recorded a paltry 10 per cent fund disbursement in four years, a development which did not inure to the benefit of potential farmers.

The Minister, however, noted that under the PFJ programme, the GASIP project has recorded tremendous success.

Between June and December 2019, close to 50,000 smallholder farmers benefitted from inputs subsidy, capacity building, roads infrastructure, amongst others, whilst 53 value chain drivers were also engaged under the programme in August.

Additionally, 18,000 youth and women, as well as 1,200 farmer-based organisations (FBOs), were enlisted on the programme.

According to the appraisal document released by GASIP, 1,300 farmers and associations benefited from climate resilient practices, whilst the ministry also collaborated with other institutions, including Ghana Meteorological Agency, NESTLE and GIZ, on crosscutting issues such as climate change and gender considerations.

Vision for Cycle Two

The Minister said the second phase of the programme will involve meeting the demand of over 50,000 smallholder farmers across the country, whilst mainstreaming and integrating climate change resilience in all programme activities.

“We are anticipating that under the Phase II of this programme about 50,000 direct jobs would be created with the inclusion of the tree crop and poultry value chains,” he said.

He explained that this will help address the increasing number of youth and women interested in tree crops farming, under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme, and livestock, under the Rearing for Food and Jobs initiative.

 

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