The Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has showcased Ghana’s gains in Agric sector, stressing that the country is fast becoming West Africa’s food basket.
This, according to him, is due to the implementation of government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme and its associated modules such as the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) and the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD).
The minister announced these when he addressing the seventh edition of the Nation Building Update organised by the Ministry of Information on the theme “Becoming West Africa’s Food Basket”, in Accra yesterday.
Dr Afriyie Akoto emphasised that since agriculture is the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy, the significant investment in the sector by government has created food security and is gradually producing yields for export into neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire while creating jobs in the process.
“Ghana is fast becoming a food producing country. Since we assumed office in 2017, we have significantly increased the production of key food crops such as maize, soya beans and rice for our local market as well as for export. On a daily basis, trucks from Guinea, Kanu, Nigeria, Togo and Burkina Faso come for our locally produced food crops,” he said.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto said Ghana has seen substantial increase in the production of key food items. He said for example the national production trend for maize has increased from 2,011 metric tons to 2,912 in 2019 and is projected to hit 3,427 metric tons in 2020. This the Minister noted that because of the increase in production of maize, the country has become maize sufficient and is no longer importing the food crop.
In soya beans production, the Minister noted that in 2017, the country’s output was 170 metric tons but has increased to 193 metric tons and is likely to hit 209 metric tons this year. He also noted the significant increase in rice production and expressed optimism that by the year 2023, the country will produce enough rice to satisfy the local market as well as the foreign market.
“When I say Ghana will in 2023 start exporting rice, people begin to marvel. But that is the reality. Due to the key interventions this government has made in agric, we are beginning to see an increase in our rice production and I am very optimistic that if everything goes as planned, and with the road map government has in place, we will start exporting made in Ghana rice in 2023.
Highlighting the reason behind the increased yields the Minister stressed government interventions in supporting farmers.
He said in all between 2018 and 2019, 65,500 farmers have benefited and a total of 16 million seedlings have been distributed to farmers during the same period.
The Minister added that food exports to neighbouring countries between 2017 to September 2020 has seen an increase to 508,000 metric tons with a value of GHS 719 million emphasizing that in the same period food inflation decreased from 9.7% with a positive impact on overall inflation.
In a concluding remarks, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said government will continue to create the needed platform, provide improved seeds, fertilizers and extension services to smallholder farmers across the country in order to realize the vision of producing key food items for the sub region.