The National Service Scheme (NSS) is to receive government support in land preparation, technical advice, improved seeds, and fertilizers for its farm project in Kumawu, to create a viable economic enclave to boost economic activities in the area.
This move is also aimed at supporting local family farms and individual farmers in the area to improve their livelihoods.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Bryan Acheampong announced this when he paid a day’s working visit to the NSS farm at Kumawu in the Ashanti Region.
He disclosed that the entire areas of the Atiwa East and West Districts, Sekyere Affram Plains, Kumawu, and Agogo have been designated as the Affram Plains Irrigation Project, which is aimed at creating various economic enclaves. The NSS farm project therefore, is one economic enclave.
The Minister said, the creation of economic enclaves does not necessarily mean that government will buy the lands. Rather, the government plans to organize the land where the various institutions under the Ministry of Agriculture would assist farmers and land owners with land preparation, soil testing and other technical support.
“Inasmuch as we want to focus on commercial agriculture, we are not going to leave the family farm people. We rather want to support them and move them away from the kind of farming they do, into organized farming”, he stated.
He also assured local family farmers that the project will not deprive them of their lands that they owe already and working on them, but would support them to have best agriculture practices for improved yields.
Dr. Bryan Acheampong lauded the efforts of the NSS in the massive agriculture project that it is undertaking at Kumawu, especially where graduates from the country’s tertiary institutions would be assisted to take up agriculture as economic activity for themselves as a way of contributing towards reducing the growing rate of graduate unemployment in the country.
He therefore appealed to chiefs of the area to release more lands for farming activities, and invited private sector participation in agriculture in the designated economic enclaves.
The Executive Director of the NSS, Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi said that the project is aimed at partnering with the local farmers to ensure that they also benefit from practicing improved farming practices.
He explained that the concept of the partnership is to have three national service personnel and two local farmers to form a group of five people to be allocated a parcel of land to work on and to own it eventually.
He said the Scheme plans to deploy about four hundred national service personnel to the Kumawu project this year to be trained in improved agriculture as they fulfil their one year mandatory national service.
It is envisioned that these service personnel would acquire the needed agriculture skills within the one year period of their service, after which they would be assisted to be transited into having their own farms to manage.
The NSS has already cultivated some 4,000 acres of land as a starting point, out of the 20,000 acres of land that it has acquired from the traditional authorities of Kumawu. One thousand acres of the land has been cleared and used for maize cultivation, 650 acres for soya beans, and 350 acres for rice production.
The Minister and his entourage, accompanied by the Executive Director, The Deputy EDxecutive Director, Mr. Kwaku Ohene Djan, and other officials of the NSS spent over three hours to inspect the large farm area in a tractor that carried the team from one end of the farm to another, and the farm house constructed by the Scheme to accommodate service personnel who would be deployed to work on the farm.
The entire entourage also took some time off to inspect a warehouse that accommodates a maize drying machine is storing some of the harvested maize as well.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the tour, the Ag. Director of Corporate Affairs of the NSS, Mr. Ambrose Entsiwah Jnr. said the Scheme was committed to ensuring that the project achieves its intended purpose.
He was optimistic, that with the assurances given by the Argic Minister, the needed technical support would come in early enough to ensure that the overall objective of the project is achieved.