A Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Mr Augustine Collins Ntim, has given metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) a two-month ultimatum to come up with one or two cash crops with a budget that will support between 10,000 and 20,000 farmers to each cultivate an average of 10 acres within the next four years.
He challenged the MMDAs to recruit 100 young people in their districts who would be trained to support the farmers to plant seedlings of crops under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ initiative.
Mr Ntim urged them to establish seed banks in the various electoral areas that would raise improved and high yielding varieties of seedlings as approved for the district to be distributed to the farmers.
He was speaking at a sensitisation meeting on the establishment of the District Chamber of Agriculture, Commerce and Technology (DCACT) at Abesim, near Sunyani.
The MLGRD, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovations and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, intends to set up the DCACT to spearhead government’s technological, entrepreneurial, commercial and agribusiness initiatives through the MMDAs.
The 13-member DCACT was established to enhance government’s drive for industrial revolution through various districts with the mandate to promote agribusiness to facilitate an interface between the private and public sector at the district level.
The meeting brought together key stakeholders such as MDCEs, municipal and districts directors, directors of agriculture, planning and budget officers.
It was also to provide the participants with information on the procedures, merits of the DCACT and the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ and other investment programmes of the government.
The MMDAs are expected to submit their project proposals in alignment with the medium-term development plan and in consultation with the department of agriculture for consideration.
The seven identified crops under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ include cashew, shea butter, mango, citrus, cocoa, rubber, oil palm and coconut.
Two million farmers
Mr Ntim said more than two million farmers would be registered and supported under the initiative.
He also explained that the project sought to position the country as a leading producer of cocoa and cashew in the world in the next four to 10 years and added that 50 districts had been identified for the production of cashew nuts.
The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of Crops, Mr Sagri Bambagi, disclosed that available evidence suggested that only 11 per cent of maize farmers in Ghana used improved seeds for cultivation.
According to him, the seed industry in the country is seriously facing challenges due to the neglected investment in improved seed and agriculture.
Mr Bambagi expressed worry about the country’s inability to improve on the various seeds for farmers to support them to increase their yields and pledged to team up with the other ministries to put interventions and programmes in place to improve the varieties of seeds in the country.