The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is to invest in the development of selected cash and food crops, as well as horticultural products, for processing and export to ensure food security in the country.
The cash crops are cashew, oil palm and cotton, while the food crops are rice and maize.
The ministry will also facilitate the establishment of marketing organisations along the lines of the Ghana Cocoa Board to support the development of other cash crops in the country.
The sector Minister, Alhaji Mahammed Muniru Limuna, who made this known at the meet-the-press series in Accra yesterday, said the ministry had encouraged the promotion and development of the three crops over the years as a strategy to diversify exports.
Currently, he said, 220,267 cashew grafts had been produced from the two central nurseries located in Wenchi and Bole and other private nurseries for sale to farmers in more than 25 districts.
He said the ministry had also been promoting the Ghana Green Label (GhGL) scheme aimed at promoting safe food production and post-harvest handling and distribution using good and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.
Alhaji Muniru said the implementation of the scheme would facilitate the eventual transition of the Ghanaian horticultural industry to sustainable agriculture.
He said the subsidy programme instituted in 2008 to enhance small-holder farmers’ access to affordable fertiliser with the aim of increasing crop productivity and to ensure food security had ended.
According to the minister, within the period of the implementation of the subsidy programme from 2008 to 2013, 724,055 tonnes of fertilizer was subsidised at a cost of GHC345.2 million.
He said MoFA was also supporting the livestock sector to increase meat production in the country.
The ministry facilitated the production and processing of 1,000 tonnes of chicken as a pilot project under the Ghana Broiler Revitalisation Project which was an initiative to reduce the importation of chicken.
Under the project, he said, 320 female and youth farmers were trained and supported with 1,600 guinea fowls as start-up stock to increase guinea fowl production in the three regions of the north.
To improve hatchability in guinea fowl production, 40 farmers in the three northern regions were trained and equipped with 40 Incubators and 40 electric generators (as energy back-up) to serve as nucleus farmers for the supply of keets to other farmers.
Alhaji Limuna said a $20-million project for greenhouse capacity building at four irrigation sites at Ohawu, Dawhenya, Mankessim and Libga had been established to train young agricultural graduates in greenhouse technology, with a complementary marketing and resettlement plan.
He said the development of irrigation infrastructure was key to increasing the production of crops and livestock, reducing the effects of erratic rainfall and vulnerability of poor farmers.
He debunked rumours among a section of the public that there was shortage of cassava, saying that the crop used to be for the poor but because of its value addition, it had now become a hot commodity.
He announced that a policy was being developed with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on the adoption of high quality cassava flour (HQCF) for composite flour production.
Alhaji Limuna said MoFA had also adopted new and innovative methods such as the ICT platform and e-agriculture to reach out to more farmers, saying that so far over 50,000 people were hooked onto the extension website and the WhatsApp platform.