The Government would soon introduce a programme, christened “Farm Service Centre” to reduce the high cost of production for farmers across the country.
Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, who announced this, said Cabinet had approved the programme, which consist of six units of varied resources, with a team of foreign experts expected to pilot 50 of the farm service centres.
The minister said this over the weekend when he paid a working visit to the agro-business entities under the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Projects (GCAP) in the Accra Plains to interact with farmers on their operations.
The companies are VEGPRO Ghana Limited in Torgorme, Sugarland, Kotoko, GADCO, Sogakope and Eden Tree, all in the Volta Region.
The others are Abians Company Limited and Golden Exotic Limited in the Eastern Region. .
GCAP is a 145-million-dollar-project, funded by the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, for the development and expansion of commercial agriculture.
The Minister said he was impressed with the operations of the farmers and advised them not to abuse the programme, but to make good use of the initiative to improve upon their production, reduce the cost of production and alleviate poverty.
The Minister appealed to Government officials, especially agricultural extension officers, to do their work devoid of partisan politics.
Throwing more light on the Farm Service Centre, Alhaji Limuna explained that it would have a mechanisation unit, with each farm centre, having not less than 10 tractors with all the necessary accessories to work.
Alhaji Limuna said the Centre would also have an input unit for fertiliser and improved seedlings for farmers, extension services to build the capacities of farmers through technical advice to be abreast with modern ways of farming and accessing micro credit.
The units would also house a training centre for the farmers with tractors and machines to ensure value for money and a system for buy-back units to create markets for farm produce to avoid post-harvest losses.
The Minister said each farm centre would have a minimum of 1600 hectares of irrigable lands attached to it so that should the rain fail the irrigable system would address the shortfall, adding that there was hope for the Agric sector to boom.
He said the Government had procured 549 tractors and accessories and combine harvesters from Brazil to boost the sector.
The Ministry, he said, would give some of the tractors to women and the youth who wished to engage in farming at a 50 per cent subsidy to encourage them to boost the sector.
He said the Ministry’s priority was attracting the youth and women into Agriculture to make it attractive to the youth, while addressing issues of gender nature.
“We will not attract the youth with the hoe and cutlass method of farming, but we will ensure the availability of high technology such as tractors and their accessories.”
He stated that the youth would venture into the sector should they realise the profit to be accrued from the high productivity and the quality of their commodities in reliable markets.