A sum of GH¢366million was released by government to support implementation of its Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative during the first six months of the year, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has said.
The figure represents 52 percent of the GH¢700million allocated for the programme in the 2018 budget, the Finance Minister said during his mid-year budget review yesterday.
According to him, the funds were used for procurement of some 6,000 metric tonnes of improved seedlings and 120,000 bundles of cassava, among others.
“A total of 6,000 metric tonnes of improved seeds (70% of target) of maize, rice, soya bean, sorghum, groundnut and vegetables have been distributed across the country. In addition, 120,000 bundles of cassava sticks were distributed mainly in cassava-growing areas.
“As of end June, a total of 124,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser was supplied to farmers. Biometric registration to bring farmers registered under the programme to 500,000 from the initial 201,000 registered in 2017 is currently ongoing,” he said.
He further added that a number of fertiliser companies have been engaged for the supply and distribution of 270,000mt of both organic and inorganic fertiliser at 50 percent subsidised prices to farmers under the initiative.
On infrastructure, the minister indicated that evaluation of bids has been completed for the construction of 30 new warehouses to be equipped with seed cleaners, dryers and weighing scales in strategic districts of the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
“The programme was given a further boost with the distribution of 216 pick-ups, 3,000 motorcycles, and protective clothing to the District Agricultural Departments and Agricultural Extension Agents across the country.
“Cabinet has also granted approval for recruiting 2,700 Agricultural Extension Agents to augment the depleting number of Extension Agents in the system,” Mr. Ofori-Atta added.
The Planting Food and Jobs programme was launched in April 2017 as part of government’s efforts to increase domestic production, create jobs and reduce the country’s reliance on imported foodstuff which can be grown by Ghanaian farmers.
By helping to modernise agriculture through the provision of inputs and other logistics, the Akufo-Addo-led government believes that it will be able to attract educated youth into the sector.
First implementation of the programme began last year with a few selected crops such as rice, maize and sorghum, but has now been extended to include a range of others for the 2018 crop season.
For instance, groundnut has been added to the legumes category, while cabbage, cucumber, lettuce and carrot have been added to the vegetable category. Roots and tubers have also been included as a fourth category to benefit from the programme in this current farming season.