The Deputy minister for Local Government and Rural Development in charge of Rural Economic Development and Agric, Collins Ntim has enumerated government’s medium to long term policies on agriculture to the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, José Graziano Da Silva.
Hon. Ntim who delivered a speech at the 159th FAO Council Meeting at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy on June 6,2018, said Ghana over the years has initiated a number of programmes and interventions aimed at reducing hunger and poverty across the country, adding that Ghana is the first country on the African continent to attain the Millennium Development Goal Number one, halving poverty and hunger, reducing the level of its malnourished population from 7 million in the early 1990s to less than 1 million in recent times.
The Minister reiterated the commitment of the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who doubles as the Co-Chair of the SDGs Advocates, to ensuring the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 2, which will help the country chart a sustainable path to ending hunger, food insecurity, and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
Touching on governments current policies rolled out,Mr Collins Ntim noted government of Ghana rolled out the Co-ordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development (CPESD) Policy in 2017, a seven year Policy (2017-2024) which aims at reforming Ghana’s agriculture and the country’s industry to improve the rural economy.
This, he said was expected to put Ghana on the path towards ending all forms of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
He mentioned government’s ” innovative programmes” currently ongoing in Ghana as the Planting for Food and Jobs,Planting for Export and Rural Development Programme, One District, One Factory,One Village, One Dam Initiative,the One district,One Warehousing project, capitation grant for all basic schools,School feeding programme,Free senior high school education,Free public transport system for the aged and pupils in basic schools,National health Insurance System and Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP).
These programmes, among others, he said, would facilitate rural development, and help achieve both SDGs 1 and 2 by 2030.
Modernisation Of Agriculture
For agriculture to improve production efficiency, Mr Collins Ntim revealed government’s vision is to modernise agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security, and profitability for “our farmers”,which are all aimed at “significantly enhancing agricultural productivity.”
He explained that the basic objective of the policy is to guarantee food self-sufficiency,”that are able to feed ourselves and wean us off dependence on the importation of foodstuffs we can grow by ourselves and determined to stand on our own feet – hence our mantra, Ghana Beyond Aid.”
Agric Commerce And Technology.
The deputy minister further said the District Centre for Agriculture Commerce and Technology (DCACT) is another major unit which has been established in each district to coordinate and harmonise all commercial,entrepreneurial and agricultural initiatives towards achieving viability and sustainability of economic development and job creation at the district level.
“It will facilitate and coordinate efforts of department of the assembly in the execution of all flagship programme geared towards the elimination of poverty and hunger and serves as the functional secretariat of the District Planning and Coordination Unit (DPCU),” he added.
Explaining further, the Offinso North Legislator stated: “it is the repository of data on all government flagship programmes at the district level and also provides real time data and updates to monitor progress of interventions and guide both public and private investor decision making.”
The Planting for Food and Jobs, is a major landmark intervention rolled out in April 2017 by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture aimed at addressing food security and improving household and family sustenance.
The programme offers highly subsidized package of farm inputs to farmers to improve production efficiency.
On the other hand,the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) is through the joint effort by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry Agriculture to roll out the national tree crop to create a legacy towards the realization of the Ghana beyond Aid agenda.
This 5-year PERD programme will support 770,000 farmers in 168 districts with free planting materials for eight commodity value chains namely Cashew, Coffee, Cotton Coconut, Citrus, Oil Palm, Mangoes and Shea validated to cover over 1.7 million hectares of farmlands
and in ensuring that every seedling gets planted,about,38,900 young graduates will be engaged as crop specialized extension officers to help the farmers plant through the decentralised system and to create sustainable raw material base to spur up the decentralised industrialisation drive through One District Factory initiative.
He added that,since its inception in 5 months, over 74 extension officers have been trained in modern cashew grafting and agronomic practices while 4 million coffee seedlings have been raised and currently distributed to farmers and over 11 million cashew seedlings are ready and also undergoing grafting to be supplied to the farmers.
“Again,through the collaboration with the seed production unit of Ghana cocoa board, about 46 million cocoa and 4million seedlings of coffee are ready for distribution to our farmers and it is estimated that about 300,000 hectares of farm lands will be covered this year,” he stated.
Hon Collins Ntim posited that to prevent food losses,ensure food security and promote improved nutrition, government is implementing some interventions including institutional measures to prevent food losses such as the district warehousing policy to promote the production and utilisation of locally grown and nutrient-rich foods,strengthening early warning and emergency preparedness systems; developing and implementing a nutrition strategy which adopts a life cycle approach to deal with malnutrition at all levels, and review and scale up the regenerative health and nutrition programme (RHNP).
He also said it will eliminate child and adult obesity,promote research and development in food and nutrition security (FNS).
In conclusion,the deputy minister said the livelihood empowerment against poverty (LEAP), which provides stipends to vulnerable households, has been nearly doubled to cover some two hundred and thirteen thousand (213,000) households to facilitate the achievement of SDG 2.
Meeting With FAO Director General
Mr Ntim also had a close door meeting with the Director General of FAO to facilitate and support agriculture in Ghana,and in response the FAO Director General, José Graziano Da Silva pledged his total support and committment to enhance rural economic development through agriculture and further congratulated the minister for his hardwork in the implementation of the Planting for Export and Rural Development Programme (PERD).
Present at the event were Lisandro Martin, Director, West and Centre Africa Division in charge of operational policy and results division; Sylvie Marzin, Lead Portfolio Adviser West and Central Africa Division, IFAD and Rich Perlrine, Lead Regional Economist, West and Central Africa Division Department of IFAD.