Planting for food, employment: the Ministry of Agriculture offers technical support

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Five years ago, the government rolled out the first module of five of its agricultural flagship programs; Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) to increase food production and ensure food self-sufficiency.

Rolling on the backs of smallholder farmers as the vehicle for its successful implementation, the YFP was the government’s response to the call for sustainable agriculture to create food security and produce the raw materials to power agribusiness while by creating jobs.

The idea behind the program was to ignite passion and interest in agriculture to inspire Ghanaians, especially the youth, to develop their interest in agriculture. The idea is to emphasize that farming is no longer just about producing food to eat, but farming is serious business.

Focus of PFJ

The PFJ initiative thrives on partnerships involving government, the private sector and development institutions. At the heart of this equation are smallholder farmers, themselves part of the private sector as suppliers and customers within their value chain.

It focuses on providing improved seeds and fertilizers at a subsidized price absorbed by government and extension services to smallholder farmers across the country.

Since its implementation, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has on various international platforms marketed the program to the international community, which has been endorsed as an important step towards the food sufficiency and security.

Through this effective marketing strategy, the program has caught up with a number of governments and international bodies, who have expressed interest in Ghana sharing its best practices with them for possible replication in their respective countries.

For example, neighboring Burkina Faso, Togo, Malawi, Trinidad and Tobago and recently Sierra Leone are among the countries that have requested Ghana’s assistance at one time or another for program replication.

Prominent United Nations agencies such as the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as well as the African Union (UA) have, at separate events, held discussions with Dr Akoto on the flagship program.

In February 2018, Dr. Akoto, during the 41st session of the Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), used the platform to sell the PFJ to the international gathering. During the event, Dr. Akoto spoke with the Executive Director of WFP, Mr. David Beasley and the Executive Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Mr. José Graziano da Silva and the head of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, on PFJ and how international bodies could support or partner with Ghana to provide advice to other developing countries wishing to develop a local strategy to improve their agricultural sectors.

Trinidad and Tobago

On March 11, the special adviser to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. John Alleyne, spoke with Dr. Akoto to understand how the PFJ works and the possibility of this country adopting it for its benefit.

Dr Alleyne described the flagship program as “a very good initiative” and hoped they could use some aspects of it.

He noted that after the official visit to the country with its Prime Minister, Dr Keith Christopher Rowley, “I was asked to stay for an additional week in order to get more agricultural information and technology.”

Malawi

In July 2019, a team of experts from Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development visited the country to formally review Ghana’s agricultural policies with the intention of reviewing them. reproduce in Malawi.

Their main focus was the PFJ program which the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had been able to involve young people especially in the field of greenhouse technology where university graduates showed great interest and showed the potential to turn it into a lucrative industry.

Sierra Leone

Writing on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, the Director General of Service Delivery and Performance Management, Mr. Edward Momoh Kamara, described the YFP as a huge success.

“The PFJ model that Ghana is currently using is proving hugely successful in the food and agriculture sector, and the Government of Sierra Leone, through its Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), would like to learn from the Ghanaian experience and explore the possibility of adopting a similar model through collaboration between the two governments of the two sisterly countries,” the letter states.

Consolidation

Five years later, these testimonies mean that the flagship program is a positive initiative that has registered reasonable successes and that it is therefore necessary to consolidate the gains made over the years to take Agric to the next level and become the backbone backbone of the country. struggling economy.

To be successful in consolidating the gains made so far, there must be political will and commitment on the part of government to help the ministry actually do this, regardless of the current challenges facing the sector, such as the increase in fertilizer prices on the world market.

It is expected that, this year, the PFJ program is likely to face a difficult challenge as the sector minister has indicated that the government will not be able to subsidize enough fertilizer for smallholder farmers in the country due to the increase in the price of the product on the world market.

The minister has already prepared the minds of farmers that they should rely on the open market to get fertilizer for the plants they are growing this year.

The good thing, however, is that the farmers have understood the importance of fertilizer and it is hoped that they will use the proceeds from their previous bumper crop for fertilizer to continue to increase the gains made over the five years of implementation. implementation of the PFJ initiative.

The PFJ is implemented by human beings and therefore there are bound to be challenges. People might have reservations about the implementation of the program, but the program itself is certainly commendable and sharing our success with our neighbors is certainly a good step.

After all, sharing is caring.

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