Many doubted him, some said it was not possible. One time Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more Genesis 37: 5
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto assumed office in 2017 as the Minister for Food and Agriculture with a commitment and an agenda to transform agriculture and put it on a sustainable path of accelerated growth and development for larger economic and social benefits to the nation.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto on several platforms will often ask, ‘if Ghana is so much blessed with arable lands why do we still see so much poverty, Poor subsistence farmers who are living degraded lives?’ The yields of these farmers are well below their family’s requirements, which, in turn necessitates the importation of millions of tons of grain and animal products every year. Year after year the perpetuation of the dependency cycle continues and the poor get poorer and poorer.
Coming from a backdrop of erratic agricultural sector growth rates over nearly a decade averaging 3.4%. This was evident in low farm yields as only 11% of farmers used improved seeds and about 20% used fertilizers, high post-harvest losses, low level of mechanization, ill motivated extension staff, poor agricultural infrastructure, weak linkages with other sectors.
In the midst of these negative sentiments, the Minister for Agriculture said the answer was Planting for Food and Jobs “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ) Campaign was launched by His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in April, 2017. Subsequently Planting for Export and Rural Development and Rearing for Food and Jobs were launched in Dunkwa-On-Ofin and Wa respectively
The three (3) other modules under the PFJ are: Mechanization, Greenhouse Villages and the Food Crops module. All five modules have been purposely designed and tailored for specific needs to facilitate the transformation of Ghana’s agriculture.
The policy rallied all citizens to grow grain crops and vegetables in open spaces including backyards. In that regard, private and public institutions like breweries, food processors, schools, colleges and prisons were encouraged to set up their own farms to feed the nation, export the surpluses, reduce excessive food import bill and generate employment for Ghanaians.
According to statistics by Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), after three year of the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) programme, the sector witnessed a GDP growth rate of about 6.1 percent in 2017 and 4.8 in 2018. It is important to mention that significant yield increases were recorded in 2017 for selected crops; maize yield increased by 67 percent from 1.8mt/ha to 3.0mt/ha; rice yield increased by 48 percent from 2.7mt/ha to 4.0mt/ha and soya yield increased by 150 percent from 1mt/ha to 2.5mt/ha.
In the second year, PFJ recorded 1,510,330mt in food production with a Value of Input Support at GHS 365,965,367 accounting for a value of food produced at GHS 3,426,983,000 equivalent to USD 616,363,849
The success achieved over the period has motivated the youth to see farming more of a business and not just ordinary farming.
PFJ Farmer Participation
On account of the success in 2017, government implemented an expanded version of the PFJ in 2018 with more ambitious targets of 500,000 farmers. At the end of the day, a total of 577,000 farmers had accessed the inputs, in excess of the planned target for the year.
In 2019, the Planting for Food and Jobs programme continue with an enrolment of about 1,183,313 farmers. For 2020 PFJ season, the target is to reach out to 1.2million farmers in the country.
In 2018, a total of about 183,000mt of fertilizers, 7,600mt of seeds and cassava planting materials were distributed across the country. In 2019, 13,000mt of subsidized seeds for priority crops (cereals, legumes and vegetables) and 200,000 bundles of cassava planting materials; 438,900mt subsidized inorganic fertilizer and 30,000mt of organic fertilizers were distributed. The distribution of the subsidized inputs to the farmers translated into 1.2 million metric tons of additional production of cereals and legumes in 2019.
In 2016, the Extension Agent to Farmer ratio was 1:2,500. This has significantly improved to 1:1,165 with engagement of 3,000 extension agents comprising Youth Employment Agency and National Service Personnels and the recruitment of 2,700 extension agents and other relevant staff in 2018. Government, with the support of the Canadian Government distributed 216 brand new pickups to the Departments of Agriculture of the District Assemblies. Additionally, 3,000 motorbikes were procured for effective extension service delivery.
By; Bagbara Tanko, PRO, MOFA