Thursday, 27 August 2009

GH¢10.7m released to support youth involved in agriculture

By Frank ADDO

In furtherance of its promise and commitment to improve agriculture and create jobs, the John Atta Mills government has released a total of ten million, seven hundred thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢10.7m) to support young people who have opted for farming.

The funds, according to Finance Minister Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, is been allocated to young farmers growing maize, rice, sorghum and soya beans. Beneficiary regions are the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti, Central and Volta.

While agriculture is said to be the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy, contributing 35% of GDP and providing employment to some 60% of Ghanaians, the full force of the sector, according to the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC), “has not been properly harnessed and fully exploited to drive the development process.”

The support to young people in farming and other interventions are expected to achieve the objective laid out in the NDC’s 2008 manifesto.

Presenting the government’s mid-year budget review and supplementary estimates to Parliament, Dr. Duffuor said a total of 14,000 hectares of land are under cultivation. The rehabilitation of forty-one dams in the three northern regions has also started to support dry season farming.

“It is expected that farmers will take advantage of the investment that government is making, to increase food production.”

Still on agriculture and in keeping with the NDC’s pledge to support and encourage the production of export crops, a total of GH¢1.1 million has been approved by the Export Development and Investment Fund for eight farmer-based organizations and associations in the Northern and Upper West regions.

Intended to encourage commercial agriculture in mango production, the facility will enable the associations cultivate 180 acres each of mango plantations, which will be intercropped with annual crops like soya-beans, groundnuts and yams. It is anticipated that intercropping with the annual crops will ensure judicious use of land as well as increase in food output and improvement of household income in the short to medium term during the gestation period of the mango.

Dr. Duffuor also announced that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, under the Food Security and Emergency Preparedness Programme, is embarking on an extensive production of rice and maize in some strategic locations in the country. In that regard, an amount of GH¢3.6 million has been provisioned to support the procurement of appropriate machinery and equipment for planting and harvesting.

Meanwhile, an estimated GH¢1.7 million has been projected for the sewing of government’s free school uniform by local tailors and seamstresses. This is also in fulfillment of government’s desire to support local artisans.

“Government has started discussions with the local textile industry towards the implementation of the free school uniform programme for basic schools in deprived areas. This programme is expected to reduce the cost of education on parents and to increase primary school enrolment” he noted.

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