ACCRA, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reiterated his government’s commitment to make agriculture the pivot of Ghana’s economic and social development.

If Ghana is to make any meaningful change in the lives of its people, efforts should be directed at agriculture, as the majority of people can only feel a change in their lives when agriculture is developed, he said when launching the government’s flagship agricultural programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, in Brong Ahafo Region (Province) in central Ghana, Wednesday.

President Akufo-Addo noted that with Ghana’s agriculture predominantly hinging on the production of cocoa, the country had not made much progress in the cultivation of staples, like rice, maize and soybeans. He therefore called for a fundamental change in attitudes towards agriculture.

Agriculture is not and cannot be a single-crop industry. Farming is a business and it is a profession that must be promoted and studied like all other professions. Ghana has the unique potential to feed its growing population, meet the raw material requirements of our processing industries, achieve food security, and compete successfully as a leading supplier to countries around us and beyond, he said.

The flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme is aimed at transforming Ghana’s agricultural sector. The programme is expected to address the twin problem of migration of rural youth to the cities in search of non-existent jobs, as well as an end to the disturbing spectacle of Ghana importing food from neighbouring countries.

President Akufo-Addo explained that the programme would be anchored on the pillars which would transform Ghanaian agriculture — the provision of improved seeds; the supply of fertilizers; the provision of dedicated extension services and marketing strategy; and the use of e-Agriculture.

The Planting for Food and Jobs programme is expected to increase the production of maize by 30 per cent, rice by 49 per cent, soybeans by 25 per cent, and sorghum by 28 per cent from current levels. This programme will create 750,000 jobs in both direct and indirect employment, the president said.

The vision of his government, he stressed, was to modernise agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security, and profitability for farmers, all aimed at significantly increasing agricultural productivity. Additionally, a value-addition strategy, aimed at rapidly ramping up agro-processing and developing new and stable markets for products would be pursued.

Our policies and interventions would encompass the full agricultural value chain and create additional businesses and job opportunities in the areas of storage, transport, processing, packaging and marketing of agricultural produce, all of which would ensure that our farmers and fisher folk earn higher incomes, he added.