As part of measures to provide market for tonnes of food expected from the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ministries of Education, Health and Gender, Children and Social Protection.
The MoU will enable the government to use its procurement power to supply foodstuffs to health and educational institutions and the School Feeding Programme.
“The government’s procurement power will be used to create demand for food surpluses that will come from the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme.
“We will be the first port of call for food supply to these institutions. If we don’t have what they request for, we can then give the go ahead for other options,” the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, told the Daily Graphic.
He said the move had become necessary following the anticipated increase in food production “as the government rolls out its Planting for Food and Jobs Programme.”
He added that although the idea had been mooted in the past, this would be the first time it would happen on a formal basis and adhered to by the parties involved.
The government has budgeted a little over GH¢560 million to cater for the five pillars of the campaign — seeds, fertiliser, extension services, marketing and e-agriculture and monitoring.
According to Dr Akoto, the marketing pillar of the programme required that farmers did not lose out even if there was bumper harvest; hence, the government’s decision to build silos in all 216 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
Dr Akoto said the government would also have an off-taker agreement with poultry farmers for the supply of poultry products as well as the possibility of a government to government supply of some produce from Ghana to Burkina Faso.
The minister said some farmers in the southern sector had begun receiving inputs such as seeds and fertiliser.
He said farmers in the northern sector would take their turn later in the year after the launch of the programme in the three regions of the north.
The government in April this year launched the ambitious campaign to turn farmlands and backyards into a huge food basket that is expected to cut down the country’s food import bill drastically.
Modelled on the highly successful ‘Operation Feed Yourself (OFY)’ programme of the 1970s, the initiative is expected to be driven by 200,000 farmers to be selected nationwide and individuals willing to cultivate vegetables and other crops in their backyard.
This year, maize, rice, soybean, sorghum and vegetables such as tomato, onion and pepper are the five main crops for concentration.
The campaign is expected to yield food valued at GH¢1.3 billion.
The concept also has tax incentives for companies, including the breweries and food processing companies, which are willing to go into farming to feed their factories.
The project is targeted at creating over 750,000 direct jobs for Ghanaians who will be actively involved in the pilot phase of the project this year and is expected to; thereafter spearhead the government’s agricultural modernization policy for the next five years.