Gov't secures US$33m from Brazil to support farmers
The government's efforts to transform the agriculture sector and create employment with the introduction of the "Planting for Food and Jobs" initiative has received yet another major boost with the release of US$33 million by the Brazilian government for the supply of agricultural machinery to farmers.
The amount forms part of an existing US$96 million soft loan for the revamping of Ghana's agricultural sector.
The deal also involved the procurement of logistics for the implementation of the government's "One Village One Dam" policy which is set to begin soon.
The agreement to release the second tranche of the facility, valued at $33million, was reached after a fruitful discussion between the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto and his Brazilian counterpart, Blairo Maggi, in his office in Brasilia.
The discussion between the two Ministers also touched on the state of the cocoa industry in both Ghana and Brazil and other areas of possible collaboration, to promote the chocolate sector for value addition.
The facility will go into the supply of basic machinery for smallholder farmers under the flagship "Planting for Food and Jobs" policy.
This is in line with the decision by Government of Ghana to withdraw the Tractor Program in favour of the supply of logistics that will benefit as many farmers as possible, particularly those who do not have the means to purchase tractors and other heavy-duty machines for their farming activities.
The logistics will include those to be used for preparation, planting, application of fertilizers, as well as harvesting of food crops.
In this regard, specific emphasis has been placed on small irrigation purposes under the government's one village one dam policy in the northern savanna zones.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in the discussion, reiterated the determination of the government to transform the agricultural sector permanently.
He indicated that the objective requires the application of technology to benefit as many farmers as possible in an effort to improve their production and income whilst raising farm output to an unprecedented level in the history of Ghana's agricultural sector.
The Agric Minister, therefore, expressed gratitude to his Brazilian counterpart for agreeing to release the funds despite initial hesitation and pledged that government will judiciously utilize the facility for the benefit of farmers.
In a related development, the Minister held discussions with key manufacturers and major suppliers of farming equipment in Sao Paulo, the industrial hub of the South American country.
He was accompanied on the visit by the acting Director of Agricultural Engineering Services Division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Aboagye, as well as agents of the manufacturers in Ghana.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto emphasized that government's policy is geared towards the benefit of the smallholder farmers hence the decision to review the large tractor program.