The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has made a strong case for a $105 million from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) under the United Nations for the implementation of the Ghanaian government’s agricultural flagship programme – Planting for Food and Jobs(PFJ).
The facility is under Cycle Two of the Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) which is meant to support the capacity of smallholder farmers in the country under the government’s flagship programmes.
The request follows a successful completion of Phase One of the programme in 2019, which saw the disbursement of over 60% of the funds to beneficiary farmers within the spate of six months under a new team put in place by his office to ensure the implementation of the programme.
Following this feat, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said yesterday that the ministry was seeking the immediate release of $30 million to consolidate the gains made in 2019, plus additional $75 million for long-term investment.
The minister, who made the request during a meeting with the President of IFAD, Gilbert Houngbo, at the just ended 43rd Session of the Governing Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO-UN), said the timely release of the facility would not only help Ghana consolidate gains made under PFJ over the past three years, but also it would help meet the demands of over 50,000 smallholder farmers who could not be supported last year.
Dr. Akoto Afriyie said before the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came into office, the GASIP Fund had recorded only 10% fund disbursement in four years, saying it did not inure to the benefit of potential farmers.
The minister said, however, that with the NPP at the helm, the PFJ and the GASIP had recorded tremendous successes, saying “between June and December 2019, close to 50,000 smallholder farmers benefitted from inputs subsidy, capacity building, roads infrastructure, amongst others, whilst 53 value chain drivers were also engaged under the programme in August.”
Additionally, 18,000 youths and women, as well as 1,200 Farmer-Based Organizations (FBOs), were also enlisted under the programme.
“We are anticipating that under the Phase II of this programme about 50,000 direct jobs would be created with the inclusion of the tree crop and poultry value chains,” he said.
Mr. Houngbo expressed satisfaction with the level of progress achieved in Ghana’s agricultural sector.
According to him, the remarkable successes chalked up over the past three years in Ghana’s agricultural sector must be emulated, adding that IFAD would continue to partner with Ghana to sustain and improve on the gains made.
BY Melvin Tarlue