The Executive Director of Global Hand on Natural Environmental Care (GHANECare), Richard Kuunaah, has advocated for the incorporation of the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme into the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy II (FASDEP II) to ensure its sustainability.
He observed that despite the dwindling fortune of the agric sector, it remains the major source of employment for the citizens of Ghana and it is therefore a force to reckon with in the countrys economy.
Mr. Kuunaah was speaking at a sensitization and stakeholders workshop on the review of FASDEP II at Wa in the Upper West Region.
Mr. Kuunaah traced the implementation of FASDEP I, saying though it was aimed at reducing rural household poverty, it needed to be reviewed as FASDEP II to improve on the lot of the people and to ensure food security.
He said when the PFJ initiative was rolled out in 2017, it initially received applause from various segments of the Ghanaian society and international partners but stakeholders over a time, raised concern about the absence of a policy document to serve as a blue print for the implementation of the programmme.
A Research Consultant, Amos Baffour-Mensah who made a presentation on a study titled Advocating for the Review of the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy II to incorporate the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme (PFJ) stressed the necessity for MOFA to explore multiple sources to fund the programme locally to ensure its sustainability.
He equally recommended an extensive consultation with different actors along the agricultural value chain for their input on how to further sustain the PFJ initiative.
Mr. Baffour-Mensah also advised that various political parties should be brought on board for them to buy into the PFJ to ensure that all political administrations implement it.
The Upper West Regional Crops Officer, Department of Agriculture, Huudu Abu indicated that the beneficiaries of the planting for food and jobs (PFJ) in the Upper West Region for the 2018 season increased more than threefold as compared to that of 2017.
Actual beneficiaries of PFJ for the 2017 season stood at 29,349 and out of the number, 26,083 (88.87%) were males whilst 3,266 (11.13%) were females.
For the 2018 season, 117,220 people benefitted of which 80,354 (68.55%) were males with 36,866 (31.45%) of the beneficiaries being females.
In terms of acreage, in 2017, 52,833 acres (21,133.2 hectares) were cultivated but in 2018, it increased to 245,729 acres (98,291.60 hectares).
Giving the seed inventory for Upper West for 2018, Mr. Abu said 673,423.10 kilograms were received but 229,638.70 kilograms were distributed leaving a balance of 443,784.40 kilograms of seeds.
Reports say most of the seeds also arrived late for the programme, hence the low distribution.
The Crops Officer recommended that the seed meant for the region for the 2019 PFJ season should be supplied between April 15 and May, 15 2019 to enable farmers have access to the seed at the appropriate time.
Total cost of all inputs given out to farmers for the 2017 PFJ season in Upper West was 12 million 657 thousand, 466 Ghana Cedis, 79 pesewas (GH₵12,657,466.79), but as at December 2018 farmers had paid eight million, 562 thousand and 61 Ghana Cedis, 54 peswas (GH₵8,562,061.54) leaving a balance of four million, 95 thousand and 405 Ghana Cedis 25 pesewas (GH₵ 4,095,405.25).
An Agric Economist of the PPME Directorate of MOFA, Accra, Charles Ayueboro Adama who made a presentation on the way forward on the FASDEP II Policy Review advised agric officers to use the MOFA website (www.mofa.gov.gh) to update their knowledge in order to enhance their work.
He stated: I dont think we should sit in our district and wait for the information, because these things are public, if you look at MOFA website, various reports are thereand just download everything, MoFA will not charge you.
The Upper West Regional Director of Agric, Emmanuel Sasu Yeboah, announced that this year there is going to be rearing for food and jobs and that Busa and Babile agric farms are going to be used to quarantine livestock.
He said tracking of fertilizer will be up-scaled to check smuggling.
We are going to track the fertilizer movement from Accra to the warehouse and make sure that how it is being distributed.
The farmers particulars are being taken electronically and everything, and then communicated to Accra.
So all these things are being put in place to check smuggling and other things, Mr. Yeboah emphasized.
An Agric Officer of the PPME Directorate of MoFA in Accra, Mohammed Kamil announced that this year, as a way curbing smuggling, PFJ fertilizers to the northern part of the country will be in 25kg bags instead of 50kg bags to distinguish them from those in Southern Ghana.
The Media Consultant to GHANECare, Raphael Godlove Ahenu said reports show that Ghana has been spending over one billion Dollars annually since 2015 to import rice into Ghana and pointed out that the money could have been given to local farmers to up their production locally to create the needed multiplier effect in the country.
The Regional Coordinating Director, Gilbert Nuuri-Teg who chaired the session said he was happy that the workshop was discussing how the PFJ has fared since its inception in 2017.
The advocacy session was organized with sponsorship from the Business Sector and Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund with support from Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), European Union (EU) and United States Agency for International (USAID).
Story and pictures by Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo