Barely two months after it was launched, government’s flagship agricultural programme-planting for food and jobs- is gasping under shortage of seedlings.
Seedlings for the cultivation of rice, sorghum in the north are in short supply and hampering the policy that seeks to create over 750,000 jobs.
The situation is so dire the government has to turn to Burkina Faso for extra seedlings.
“So far we have realised that the major constraint to the planting for food and jobs in terms of supplies have been the inadequate supply that we organised for the local seed industry.
“To the extent that we are having to rely on Burkina Faso to supply us with additional seeds of rice, sorghum and soya for distribution in the northern sector of this country,” Agriculture Minister Dr Afriyie Akoto admitted in an interview.
The policy was launched by the president in April, at Goaso in Brong Ahafo Region with the aim of transforming the agric sector.
The policy which recruited 200,000 farmers in its first year of implementation is expected to increase the production of maize by some 30%, rice by 49%, soyabean by 25% and sorghum by 28% from the current production, the president promised.
But the anticipated increase in production is likely to be hampered if the current shortage in seedling supply is not fixed.
“The local seed industry has been caught unaware by the sudden demand for seeds,” the agric minister Dr Afriyie Akoto stated.
With the number of farmers set to increase from 200,000 farmers to 500,000 in the coming years of the programme implementation, the minister said he is working with the two seed producers to be able to provide the needed seeds for the smooth implementation of the project.
He said government will provided the needed logistics in terms of tractors, fertilizers to the two companies to be able to provide all the seedlings that will be needed for next year.
“We are going to sign an MOU with the two institutions followed by a contract for them to deliver the quantity of seedlings needed by March 31, 2018,” he said.
He said the supply of fertiliser does not seem to be a challenge at all and hoped the programme will bounce back despite the initial hiccup.
But the Minority says the measures taken by the Agric minister to fix the problem of shortages are unrealistic.
A member of the Agric Committee of Parliament Samuel Jabanyite told Joy News’ Evans Mensah the government cannot go to Burkina Faso for seedlings when it has different ecosystems with its neighbour.
According to him, while the policy is good, it was rushed through by the minister and the government.
He said even though some of these challenges were anticipated, the government failed to listen to constructive criticisms.
Samuel Jabanyite doubted claims by the minister that 200,000 farmers had been engaged in the first year of the project implementation and challenged the Minister to publish the names of the farmers.