The “Planting for food and jobs campaign” has been launched in the Upper West Region with a call on all to take up farming as a full time or part time activity.
The launching was done alongside the inauguration of the regional implementation committee and an earlier orientation for 86 recruited graduates from Agricultural Colleges as Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs).
These officers would advise farmers in the region to adopt Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and pest management to optimize productivity of the selected crops under the programme.
The campaign which had been structured along the lines of the erstwhile “Operation Feed Yourself” programme of the 1970s would for this 2017 focus on four key value chains; maize, rice, soybean and sorghum as well as promote peri-urban vegetable production.
Mr. Ebenezer Aboagye, Acting Director, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) launched the campaign in the region on behalf of the Sector Minister Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto.
He noted that other campaigns would be outdoored for industrial crops, cash crops and the livestock sector among others in subsequent years.
He said the targeted value chains would see maize production being increased by at least 30 per cent, rice production by 49 per cent, soybean by 25 per cent and sorghum production by 28 per cent while backyard gardening would see to the production of vegetables such as tomato, onion and pepper among others to improve nutrition and health.
Mr Aboagye said the programme significantly covered all 10 regions in the country, adding that while maize and rice production would be carried out across the country, soybean and sorghum production would be concentrated in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions as the two crops grew well in these three regions.
He said the campaign was anchored on five strategic pillars including provision of improved seeds, provision of fertilizers, provision of dedicated extension services, marketing and E-agriculture platform.
The Acting Director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of MoFA hinted that the national, regional and district level committees would provide policy as well as technical direction to the implementation of the programme at all levels.
Mr Aboagye said the campaign was expected to contribute to national food security, jobs for the teeming youth, cheap food prices for urban areas and raw material for the livestock and industrial sector.
It is also expected to improve incomes of farmers and rural dwellers, foreign exchange earnings from exporting surplus produced to the ECOWAS sub-region and beyond.
The programme is also expected to reduce the foreign exchange expenditure on importing food which was produced in Ghana by their hard working farmers.
He assured that government was highly committed to the implementation of the laudable programme and called for close partnership with traditional authorities, private sector and development partners to work with MoFA to fulfill the dream of making food readily accessible to all Ghanaians.
Mr Alhassan Sulemana, the Upper West Regional Minister who is the Chairman of the regional implementation committee pledged their full commitment to make the programme successful in the region.