Ghana will be self-sufficient in rice production and will also stop importing maize by 2024, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has assured.
He said for the effects of the severe drought experienced in the country last year, these targets could have been achieved earlier.
The Minister made this known at the Meet-the- Press series organised by the Ministry of Information with a focus on the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme under the Ministry for Food and Agriculture.
Giving figures to back the targets, he said, back in 2017 when the PFJ was initiated, Ghana was importing about 1,082,224 metric tonnes of rice which was being reduced to 708,018 in 2021 adding that if not for the drought, the story would have been different.
Dr Akoto said the target of self-sufficiency was also based on the fact that more farmers were going into rice farming across the country.
He said as a result of the enthusiasm in rice farming, the government was importing milling machinery to be spread across the country to boost production.
Touching on reducing the importation of maize, he said the government has reduced significantly, the importation of maize and was even exporting to other West African countries.
Dr Akoto said the country, however, still imports special maize for the poultry production but needed to export local maize to other West African countries because of their precarious food security.
“Ghana has staple food security situation in the West African region, therefore, the demand for our staples has increased across the region,” he said.
He said this was achieved through many interventions which resulted in steady progress in the head of the agriculture sector adding that government needed to be commended for feeding the nation as well as exporting to other nations.
Dr Akoto said warehouses have been increased from 31 in 2017 to 80 currently to complement the increasing food stocks adding that capacity for storage in these warehouses now stood at 80,000 metric tonnes.
He said fertiliser supply to farmers through the PFJ increased from 134,000 in 2016 to 423,473 in 2019 while improved seeds also shot up from 2,750 from 2016 to 29,000 with an expected target of 40,000 in 2021 with all the improved seeds being produced locally.
Mr Akoto said since extension officers formed an integral part of agricultural output by imparting scientific knowledge to the farmers, in 2017 after an audit which revealed that the actual numbers on the field were 1,000, the Ministry requested for an additional 2700 from Cabinet, which was granted.
He said after their recruitment, the government acquired logistics for them to support their work with the supply of 4,367 motorcycles to add to the 1000 which were already in use.
Dr Akoto said the government additionally procured 300 vehicles from the Canadian government to support their work on the field adding that the PFJ being an integral part of the government flagship, ‘One district, one factory (1D1F)’, has supported 278 Agro-based industries with about 48 per cent of their output.