Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has rubbished claims that farmers are not patronizing government’s planting for food and jobs programme.
There were earlier reports which suggested lack of interest in the initiative on the part of the farmers.
According to Dr. Afriyie Akoto, the initial target of registering 200,000 farmers forms part of the test programme for the initiative ahead of real take off in 2018.
Speaking at the tenth anniversary celebration of the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), the Agric Minister said the prospects for the initiative are very high but government would first have to start with low numbers while still in the test stage.
“The spearhead of that is what we are calling for the ‘planting for food and jobs’ program by choosing something like 200,000 farmers and focusing to make sure that they have the improved seed for five main crops. That’s what we are trying to do just like a pilot scheme,” he stated.
Dr. Akoto added, “What you have to remember is that there are about 5 million farmers and fishermen in this country so if you choose two hundred thousand to work with its like going into the laboratory to do an experiment and the idea is that we do this experiment, look at the constraint and so on and launch into the main programme in 2018.”
Meanwhile the sector minister has revealed that that inspite of a minimal number of starting with 200,000 farmers , there are not enough improved seeds for them and that government has had to import additional seeds for the project which has also opened up interest in expanding the seed industry in Ghana.
“The interesting thing is that despite the low numbers we are starting with there aren’t enough improved seeds in this country; we have to import seeds from Cote d’ Ivoire and Nigeria.”
“So it shows you that the potential that the seed industry in this country hasn’t even started and this is an area that we want to focus on and and support institutions like the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) and others so that we can build a solid seed industry in this country to support our agricultural development”.