The Head of Agricultural Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Emmanuel Bobobee, has advised government to take agricultural mechanisation seriously if it wants to attract the youth into the Planting for Food and Jobs project.
“The way we are doing agriculture in our part of the world is so primitive that no one will encourage his child to even study it in school. But we can turn it round and make it lucrative and attractive if we mechanise it. All other sectors are being driven by technology, so why should we continue to use cutlasses and hoes in agriculture?
So, the only way we can make agriculture attractive is to inject mechanisation into the sector from land preparation up to the post-harvest process and so we must introduce technology in the planting for food and jobs to make it work,” Prof. Bobobee said.
Agriculture has long been touted at the backbone of the country’s economy, but its growth has taken a nose dive in recent years.
The sector, which was contributing as high as 50.8 percent to GDP in the second quarter of 2013, is now contributing around 20 percent, overtaken by the services sector as the largest contributor to GDP.
The 2016 Oxford Business Group report states that the country still imports a number of staples in order to meet domestic demand.
“In 2014, Ghana imported more than US$1.6bn worth of agricultural products including US$329m of rice, US$155m of poultry meat and US$123m of wheat,” the report stated.
According to Prof. Bobobee, introducing technology into the sector can reverse the current trend.
“For a long time, we have concentrated on research on how to introduce high yielding varieties. But these high yielding varieties can only give maximum yield when they are done on a large scale. We should look at how we can add technology to these high yielding seeds to boost production. So the whole agriculture must be re-engineered to make it a big industry, so that people can go into it and feel they are going to get money,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo, last month, launched its flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, which is aimed at reviving agriculture and creating jobs.
The government is expected to produce GH¢1.3billion worth of food form the project, equivalent to 3.8million metric tonnes at the end of the 2017 planting season.
The project is expected to create 750,000 jobs, and expected to increase the production of maize by 30 percent, rice by 49 percent, soybean by 25 percent and sorghum by 28 percent from current production levels.
Government has showed commitment to the programme by earmarking GH?560 million in the 2017 budget to the project.
The Minister of Agricultural, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto said the project has the potential of injecting GH?1.4 billion into the rural economy in 2018.
“We have all the arrangements to ensure that this takes place. It will involve all the districts. We have done our calculations and it is going to create about 750,000 jobs in this coming season. We are talking about April-May. It is going to add GH¢1.4billion to the rural economy in the second year,” he said.