We will bring back the past status of farmers – Dr Akoto

Accra- Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister for Food and Agriculture (MOFA), has assured farmers that government would restore them to their former glory when farmers were the richest in the society.

In the past, cocoa farmers were the richest but the situation is different now, he said.

Dr Akoto gave the assurance when he opened the first three-day conference of the West and Central Directors of the World Food Programme (WFP) underway in Accra.

The Minister said farming was not the preserve of the poor as perceived and that government was working to transform agriculture to create wealth for all actors in the value chain.

This, he said would also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-zero hunger by 2030, he added.

The agricultural sector remains the primary source of employment, provide food security and raw materials for industries, thus, create jobs, reduce post-harvest losses and also help address climate change.

He said due to previous challenges faced by the agricultural sector, government had instituted measures including the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), One District One Factory (1D1F), to ensure adequate storage facility to enhance marketing of grains and trading on the commodity exchange and mitigate the situation.

While the PFJ is to help increase production and job creation, Dr Akoto said, the 1D1F would focus on enabling industry flourish, especially, agro-processing firms, which were owned by primarily the private sector and a key partner in achieving the SDGs.

With storage facilities, the Minister said: We wish to increase storage from 34,000 metric tonnes in 2017 to 250,000 metric tonnes in the next five years.

Dr Akoto said climate change was affecting farmers behaviour as the Country’s major farming season (May-July) had switched to the minor (September to November), stating that, government would assist them to meet their target with the unpredictability of the seasons.

To this, he said, 23,000 hectares of land was under irrigation with additional 60,000 had been marked in the middle belt and in the North whiles another 60,000 capacity would be added.

Scientists are also doing their best to create varieties that are adaptable to climate change, he disclosed, stressing that it was a long- term project by government.

The Minister said all these initiatives were to ensure that there was permanent transformation of Agriculture.

Dr Akoto expressed satisfaction that the WFP activities were in line with that of government, saying, their integrated food security and nutrition programme complemented Ghana’s and appropriately supported its current development phase and the grand vision.

Mr Abdou Dieng, WFP West and Central Regional Director, said his region (West and Central Africa) was characterised by droughts, poverty, population growth as well as conflicts and the presence of non-state armed groups that were hindering access to humanity and development actors.

The WFP is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. It provides food assistance to an average of 91.4 million people in 83 countries each year.

Source: Ghana News Agency