Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Gov’t to boast poultry industry with ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs’ programme

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Adnan Adams Mohammed

Government has hinted that, it will from next year roll out a programme, titled ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs’, to facilitate growth in the livestock industry.

In addition to this, government, before the end of the year 2018, has promised to rehabilitate six seed processing centres as part of measures to address challenges facing government’s flagship programme, ‘Planting for food and Jobs’. These were said by the Minister for Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto.

There have been concerns about the inadequate storage space for seeds, fertilisers and grain at regional and district offices, inadequate agricultural data and domestic supply of improved seeds are some of the challenges be devilling the ‘Planting for food and Jobs’programme

However, the minister was optimistic that the processing centres, when fully operational, would help address some of the challenges.

Addressing the media last week in Accra, Dr Afriyie-Akoto announced that 2,700 new extension officers have been recruited as about 80% of the officers are nearing retirement.

He also announced that 216 pick-up vehicles were given out to the district officers, and as part of its objectives, the government, together with Agritop, has created three centres for the promotion of the Greenhouse project.

According to him, government’s initiative to give out improved seeds and fertilisers to the farmers has resulted in an increase in the production of food and crops for this year.

Dr Owusu-Afriyie reiterated that government is on track to transform agriculture to bring about accelerated and sustained growth for jobs and economic development.

“We will continue to provide incentives and enable policy environment to catalyse investment in agriculture,” he added.

He said in government’s quest to revive the economy, improved seeds and fertilisers were given out to farmers, which has resulted in an increase in productivity.

He emphasised that the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme is anchored on five pillars, which include improved seeds to farmers, fertilisers to farmers, extension services, marketing arrangements, and e-agriculture.

The sector Minister noted that half of the annual demand for poultry - estimated at 232,000 metric tonnes – was imported, and this volume needed some level of attention to reduce import and create more jobs.

He noted that productivity in the poultry sector was down largely because the cost of feeding was high, covering 80 per cent of the total production cost, and the focus of the government’s flagship programme – Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) – included the intensity in the production of maize and soya, which served as the main ingredient of poultry feed.

He noted that the ministry inaugurated Ghana Cattle Ranching Project Committee in July last year to bring sanity among cattle farmers and the communities in which they operate, saying, “Fulanis are a resource for us in this country since they produced a huge chunk of the meat citizens consumed.

Mr Afriyie-Akoto said the ministry formed a transhumance committee in all regions to oversee the establishment of grazing reserves, also known as fodder bank, and feedlots at strategic locations.

He added that there was currently an ongoing rehabilitation of four fodder banks of 250 hectares each at Kwahu Afram Plains North and South districts, with the one at Wawase nearing completion to serve as a pilot grazing reserve, and 27 million local birds belonging to 42,000 households were last year vaccinated against Newcastle disease.

On PFJ, the sector Minister said its implementation had been extended to cover public senior high schools, public tertiary institutions, religious bodies, traditional bodies, urban communities, and security agencies.

Mr Afriyie-Akoto noted that the PFJ policy in 2017 created jobs for 745,000 individuals along the agriculture value chain, with 14,000 in input distribution, 3,000 in extension, 715,000 in production, 10,000 in post-harvest and processing, as well as 3,000 in marketing.

MoFA and the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives budgeted to construct 80 warehouses of 1000 metric tonnes storage capacity each.

The Minister urged the youth to take advantage of the numerous interventions the government was making in the industry and tap into the opportunities.

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