The implementation of government’s flagship ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) has increased jobs creation by over 2.28 million in the agricultural value chain, between 2017 and 2019, Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has said.
According to him, available data collated on the PFJ, based on “empirical estimation” from the field across the country in the last three years shows an increase in jobs in areas such as labour for planting, weeding, harvesting, processing, loading and offloading of farm inputs and produce among others.
He disclosed this during the 2020 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review and Supplementary Estimate he presented to Parliament.
He noted that the jobs creation achievement, coupled with other successes are in line with the programme’s objectives.
The objectives of the programme are to: ensure timely and adequate availability of selected food crops like maize, rice and soya through improved productivity; provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth; and create general awareness for all formal workers to have either farms or backyard gardens.
The Finance Minister also mentioned increase in productivity as another milestone achieved by PFJ. “One of the most significant achievements of the PFJ campaign has been the increase in productivity of the selected food crops as a result of the usage of improved seeds and fertilizer distributed to farmers.
Over the period of implementation, the percentage increases in yields of maize, rice, and soybean recorded are 131, 59, and 69, respectively. National maize production increased by 71 percent, from 1.7 million MT in 2016 to 2.9 million MT in 2019, while paddy rice increased by 34 percent from 688,000 MT in 2016 to 925,000 MT in 2019,” he said.
The total number of farmers enrolled into the programme since its inception in 2017 has risen from 202,000 to 1.5 million, Mr. Ofori-Atta stated, adding that to enhance food production in the wake of COVID-19 and enable more farmers access inputs, an additional 300,000 farmers were registered onto the programme, increasing the number of beneficiaries from the initial target of 1.2 million to the current 1.5 million.
Food exports & storage
The Minister indicated that exports of foodstuff to neighbouring countries between 2016 and 2019 increased significantly by 56.6 percent. He said data from the Statistics, Research and Information Directorate of MoFA showed that the figures soared from 85,000 MT to 133,145 MT.
He continued that government embarked on the construction of 30 warehouses, each with a capacity of 1,000 MT throughout the country as part of measures to ensure food security, reduce post-harvest loses, guarantee farmer incomes and improve marketing. “To date, 17 of the warehouses have been completed, with the remaining scheduled for completion by end of December 2020.”
The Finance Minister announced that a total of 7,141ha of land are being developed for various irrigation systems, including Tamne phase 1 & 11, Mprumem phase 1&11, rehabilitation and expansion of existing scheme at Tono, Kpong irrigation Scheme (KIS) and Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Project (KLBIP).
He added: “In addition, Government has invested in numerous small earth dams in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, and the Savannah Regions to provide farmers with easy access to water. As at June 2020, 11 out of 14 programmed small earth dams had been completed. An estimated irrigable area of 224ha will be developed in the next phase of construction.
“In the second half of the year, Government will complete the resettlement of people in Tamne and Mprumem to pave way for completion of these projects. The Tono and Kpong Left Bank Irrigation Projects will be completed by December 2020. The remaining three small earth dams, which are expected to irrigate over 80ha of crop lands, will also be constructed at the Dawhenya Greenhouse Village, Kaniago, and Ohawu Agricultural College.”