THE MINISTER designate for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has stated that one of the major priorities of the new administration of the NPP under His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo, will be to address the worrying decline in the growth of the agricultural sector in the country.
The Minister designate observed that it is highly unacceptable that despite the huge potentials that agriculture and agri-business hold for this country, the sector continues to witness steady decline in growth especially over the last eight years.
Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has therefore tasked all directors, heads of departments and leadership of all institutions to girdle their loins for serious activities over the next four years.
The Minister designate, who expressed these concerns when he met with all ten regional directors as well as heads of some institutions within the ministry yesterday, however cautioned that any individual that fails to buy into the new ideology or adopt lackadaisical attitude towards his or her duty will not be tolerated.
Whilst expressing strong faith and confidence in the current breed of staffs at the ministry to work and deliver the ultimate objectives as enshrined in the NPP government’s manifesto, the incoming Minister said he would expect all stakeholders to double their efforts and rededicate themselves towards the battle ahead.
“This time round it is not going to be business as usual; we have huge mountain to climb as a ministry in order to fulfil our objectives and we are not going to joke. I have trust and confidence in you but if you think you do not share in the ideology, better exit or we will progress and leave you behind. We are not going to tolerate laxity,” he warned.
The purpose of the meeting was also to introduce the new government’s flagship policy of “Planting For Food and Jobs”, a revolutionary project in the Agriculture sector which seeks to ensure rapid growth in food production and achieve food security in the country.
The project is aimed at promoting growth in food production and to create jobs across the country for the teeming youth. It is expected to be carried out in all the 216 districts and would involve the selection of farmers who have potentials to utilise a minimum of 10 acres of lands.
The Minister designate maintained that in the first year, about 750,000 direct jobs would be created for farmers who will be involved in the exercise and could contribute over GH1.5 Billion Ghana cedis to the economy.
Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto further announced that a seed capital of $50 million dollars will be available for the take-off of the program expected to commence in the next two months.
“We are also looking to employ about 1000 unemployed graduates from the five Agriculture Colleges who completed school and could not secure jobs. They would be involved in the exercise as experts providing supporting services to farmers. Additionally, about 3,200 extension service officers would also have direct roles to perform,” He added.
Hon. Dr. Afriyie Akoto was no justification as to why Ghana as a country cannot achieve food sufficiency, stressing that it is unacceptable to continue to spend huge sums of monies to import food from outside the country just to feed the citizenry.
The Minister designate also touched on the need for some structural adjustments and changes in the modus operandi of the ministry to reflect modern trends as well as visions and objectives of the new government.
According to him, there is the need to take a second look at both the internal and external structures within the ministry, stressing that there should be line of control and coordination within all sectors to ensure efficiency and productivity.
Play Audio- Hon Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto