Press Briefing by the Minister on COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A couple of weeks ago, after H.E the President announced restriction of movement of people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was here to assure the nation of availability of food and that there was no need for panic buying.

We have gone through three weeks of partial lockdown of some cities and we are aware of few challenges that occurred which slightly disrupted the food distribution system to the markets.

Now that the partial lockdown has been lifted by the President, I am here to reassure the public that there is adequate food in the country and distribution and marketing of food items will continue uninterrupted.

In view of observing social distancing, District Assemblies will continue to organize the markets to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

At this point I want to acknowledge the efforts of our gallant farmers and all actors in the agriculture value chain for their cooperation and contribution in ensuring supply of food during the lockdown period.

Our Flagship Programme, the PFJ is in its 4th year of implementation and the distribution of subsidized inputs (seeds and fertilizer) to all parts of the country is on-going. Similarly, the other modules of PFJ – Planting for Export and Rural Development, Rearing for Food and Jobs, Greenhouse Village and Agriculture Mechanization are also being pursued.

Our efforts to meet production targets and food needs for 2020 production season remain on course.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, the COVID-19 pandemic provides golden opportunity for Ghana to optimize our potential for food production to meet domestic needs and exports.

In the wake of export bans from countries that we import food from, it provides a compelling situation for us to put strategic measures in place to ramp up production of all our key commodities. It also gives us the opportunity to intensify agro processing, thus reducing post-harvest losses, enhancing all-year round food availability and creating jobs. 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry has engaged with several stakeholders including input distributors, importers of food items, collaborating MDAs, Ghana Commodity Exchange and our Development Partners to craft remedial measures for   immediate response to COVID-19 and also design post-COVID interventions.   

Some of the immediate actions include: market surveillance, (where market prices and food availability on the markets are monitored) PPE’s for Extension Agents, development of guidelines for production, public education through video and print, facilitating inputs distribution, etc. Medium-term actions include facilitating access to credit for producers, aggregators and processors, supporting NAFCO to mop up strategic stocks for food security, re-establish early warning system to provide regular update on food situation and establishment of COVID-19 Fund for Agriculture and Food Security

   

We are beginning to receive support and cooperation from our stakeholders to implement our plans to combat the pandemic. Our Development Partners have indicated their commitment to support our plans by restructuring on-going programmes to respond to the emergency situation or provide new funding where possible. On Monday 20th April, 2020, the Ministry received a presentation of PPE’s and cash donation of GH¢10, 000 from AGRA, mobilized from its Country staff. The cash is to serve as seed money for the COVID-19 Fund for Agriculture and Food Security. This is a gesture worth emulating.

We also want to acknowledge the support of Global Affairs Canada for refurbishing the three Biocontainment Laboratories which are now being used for testing the Corona virus.

Friends of the Media, we wish to reiterate the commitment of H.E, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led administration in prosecuting the transformation agenda. We remain resolute in our conviction that agriculture is key in contributing to the sustainable economic growth of our nation. The results of the initiatives introduced by the Government since 2017 are evident. We will continue to intensify our efforts and urge all meaning Ghanaians to come on board.

To offer me the opportunity to assess the field situation as we begin the planting season, I have planned to visit the 10 regions in the southern part of the country starting from 1st May this year.  

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