Agric Minister begins tour of 5 regions

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Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

…to step-up production in cashew, shea butter, coffee, others

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has begun a six-day tour of five  regions across the country.

The tour forms part of government’s plans to increase production in six tree crops – cashew, coffee, rubber, shea butter, coconut and palm oil.

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It was also to afford the minister a chance to see progress or otherwise of government’s flagship programme – Planting for Food and Jobs. The four regions are the Ahafo, Bono, Bono East, Ashanti and Eastern Regions.

Addressing journalists in the Ahafo regional capital of Goaso, which was his first point of call last Monday, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said government has resolved to turn its attention to the cultivation of more tree crops to ensure the country rakes in the full benefit.

He said government is determined to place much premium on six more tree crops’ production.

Addressing journalists, the minister charged the District Director in-charge of Asunafo South, Kofi Senti, to as a matter of urgency ensure that irrigation facilities in the region are maintained to support this initiative by government.

And though cashew production is making some progress in the region, he is disappointed at the breakdown of its processing plant at Mim. He therefore assured that his ministry will ensure that the plant works again.

Presenting the overall performance of both crops and animal production in the region, the Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr. Kingsford Nyame, observed that despite some progress made, both crops and animal production were faced with some challenges.

These challenges, he said, include the delay in release of Modernising Agriculture (MAG) funds to District Agriculture Development Units (DADUs), and fertilisers to district assemblies.

He said the above factors impact the overall performance of crops and animal production in the region.

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Inadequate veterinary staff numbers also contributed to low output in the production of animals, he added.

The presentation was however without the first quarter of 2021 crop yield. This did not sit well with the minister, who was obviously not happy.

According to Mr. Nyame, there was a marginal increase in yield of crops like maize, cassava, rice, cocoyam, yam and plantain in 2020.

For instance, he disclosed that “In 2020, rice production recorded 22,028 tonnes as compared to 10,494 tonnes  in 2019.”

Furthermore, the Ahafo regional director of agriculture said animal production in 2020 also saw some increment.

Poultry production, for example, recorded a 37.7% increment – which was 631,592 in 2020 compared to 393,772 in 2019.

“Sheep production recorded a 24% change, with 47,202 in 2020 as compared to 35,756 in 2019,” he disclosed.

Dr. Afriyie Akoto seized the chance to urge regional agriculture directors to work with a sense of urgency to ensure the investment made in both crops and animal production is realised.

He also tasked them to encourage more women in agriculture activities.

However, the Inputs Dealers Association expressed worry about the rather slow supply of inputs.

Later, the minister and his entourage visited the Kenyasi Prison Farm with about 200 acres of land out a total 600 acres, and assured that his outfit will provide the needed machinery to uproot tree stumps to enable expansion of the farm.

“We paid a courtesy call on the chief of Kenyasi, who also complained about the road network,” he added.

Finally, the minister and his team interacted with some women who are into rice production and promised to support them with machinery, so as to enable them venture into large-scale production.

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