The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said that Ghana is on the way to becoming the sub-region’s food basket due to the deliberate prudent measures instituted by the Akufo-Addo government.
The Minister has explained that programmes such as Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), and its associated modules such as the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) and the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) are leading the way for the country to achieve the target.
Dr Afriyie Akoto was speaking at the seventh edition of the Nation Building Update in Accra yesterday, on the theme “Becoming West Africa’s Food Basket”.
The Minister emphasised that since agriculture is the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy, the significant investment in the sector by the Akufo-Addo government has created food security and is gradually producing yields for export into neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire, while creating jobs in the process.
“Ghana is fast becoming a food producing country. Since we assumed office in 2017, we have significantly increased the production of key food crops such as maize, soya beans and rice for our local market as well as for export. On a daily basis, trucks from Guinea, Kanu, Nigeria, Togo and Burkina Faso come for our locally produced food crops,” he said.
Dr Afriyie Akoto explained that the country, since 2017, has seen substantial increase in the production of key food items, saying the national production trend for maize, for instance, has increased from 2,011 metric tonnes to 2,912 in 2019, and is projected to hit 3,427 metric tons in 2020.
He added that this has made the country become maize sufficient and is no longer importing the food crop.
On soya beans production, the Minister noted that, in 2017, the country’s output was 170 metric tonnes, but has now increased to 193 metric tonnes and is likely to hit 209 metric tonnes this year. He also noted the significant increase in rice production, and expressed optimism that by the year 2023 the country will produce enough rice to satisfy the local market as well as the foreign market.
“When I say Ghana will in 2023 start exporting rice, people begin to marvel. But that is the reality. Due to the key interventions this government has made in agric, we are beginning to see an increase in our rice production and I am very optimistic that if everything goes as planned, and with the road map government has in place, we will start exporting made in Ghana rice in 2023,” he said.
The Minister said the reason behind the increased yields is the government’s interventions in supporting farmers. He said between 2018 and 2019, 65,500 farmers have benefited from different government interventions, including the distribution of some 16 million seedlings to farmers during the same period.
He added that food exports to neighbouring countries, between 2017 and September 2020, has seen an increase to 508,000 metric tonnes with a value of GHS 719 million, emphasizing that in the same period food inflation decreased from 9.7 per cent, with a positive impact on overall inflation.
Dr Afriyie Akoto assured the country that the government would continue to create the needed platform, provide improved seeds, fertilizers and extension services to smallholder farmers across the country in order to realize the vision of producing key food items for the sub region.