Ministers touts success rate of Planting for Food and Jobs programme

Accra– Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, says the implementation of the Government’s flagship programme ‘Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ)’ has been a tremendous success.

He said the PFJ policy, which was introduced by the Government three years ago to address the declining growth of the country’s agricultural sector, has led to the sector’s growth and transformation.

Dr Akoto, who stated this on Tuesday in Accra when he took his turn at the Meet the Press Series to give an account of the state of the nation’s agriculture, reiterated that the PFJ was achieving its objectives.

The Minister said statistics are available to show that the tremendous performance of the nation’s agriculture sector.

He cited the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) 2019 Global Food Security Index (GFSI), which ranked Ghana 59th out of 113 countries.

The country was ranked 73rd ranking out of 113 countries in 2018.

He said according to the EIU’s report, the total performance score improved from 50.9 per cent in 2018 to 68.2 per cent in 2019 – representing 0.3 per cent improvement.

The figures, derived from the annual baseline model, indicates that the country recorded key strengths in the presence and quality of food safety net programmes as the planting for food and jobs initiative (scored 100 per cent), change in average food costs (97 per cent), food safety (81.2 per cent), urban absorption capacity (91.2 per cent), volatility of agricultural production (95.5 per cent).

He said the report placed Ghana as third-best in sub-Saharan Africa with South Africa and Botswana scoring first and second respectively in 2019.

Dr Akoto said the report said when it comes to food availability, Ghana placed second to South Africa with a score of 61.7 per cent.

He said year on year food inflation decreased from 9.7 in 2016 to 7.2 in 2019 with a positive impact on overall inflation.

With regard to the impact of food production on wholesale market prices, the Minister said overall food prices declined significantly in 2019 compared to 2018.

“Twenty per cent average decrease for maize, rice and sorghum. 38 per cent decrease for groundnuts, cowpea and soyabean and 45 per cent average decrease for cassava and plantain.”

He said the lower prices would imply increase disposable incomes for consumers and reduced food inflation – food inflation reduced from 9.7 per cent in 2018 to 7.2 per cent in December 2019.

Other key interventions by the Government in the agriculture sector include Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) module, Food and Crop module, Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) module, Agricultural Mechanisation Services Centres (AMSECs) module and the Green Village Module.

With regard to challenges facing the agriculture sector, Dr Akoto mentioned smuggling of subsidized inputs such as fertilizers, limited production of improved seeds (hybrid maize, sorghum, groundnuts) and limited budgetary resources to scale up interventions and reach more farmers.

To mitigate these challenges, the Minister said there is the branding of fertilizer bags, 25 kg bags; adding that regional ministers were administering fertilizers, engaging security agencies and restricted distribution in four regions.

With regard to improved seeds, he said, the Ministry was importing from the ECOWAS sub-region in the short term and developing local capacity.

On limited budgetary allocation to the sector, Dr Akoto said the Ministry was exploring other sources of funding from development agencies.

Source: Ghana News Agency