Accra, Jan. 16, GNA – Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister-Designate for Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has unveiled government's National Campaign with the slogan "Planting for Food and Jobs".
The campaign forms part of efforts to generate more wealth in the agricultural sector and to improve livelihood of farmers and fisher folks as well as help grow the national economy.
"This campaign is designed to encourage all citizens to take up farming as full or part-time activity," Dr Akoto stated on Monday in his address at the official opening of the 68th Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC) in Accra at the University of Ghana.
"It is intended to structure it along the lines of the erstwhile "Operation Feed Yourself" (OFY) programme of the 1970s," he added.
The 68th ANYSC is on the theme: "Promoting National Development through Agriculture Modernisation - The Role of ICT", was opened by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo under the chairmanship of Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana.
It is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, under the auspices of the MTN, Eximbank Ghana, and the Kosmos Innovation Centre.
Dr Akoto said the spearhead of the Campaign this year would involve the production of maize, rice, soybeans, sorghum and vegetables; adding that other crops would be adopted in subsequent years.
He said the campaign would be anchored on five pillars: provision of improved seeds, supply of fertilizers, provision of dedicated extension services, marketing and e-agriculture.
He said to initiate the Campaign, the district assemblies would be tasked to identify and register progressive farmers in each of the 216 districts.
He explained that the selected farmers would be supported with subsidized improved seeds, fertilizers and extension services.
Dr Akoto said to ensure that adequate quantities of improved seeds were made available for the Campaign in the coming 2017 planting season, the Grains and Legumes Development Board and certified seed growers would be assisted to deliver supplies to participating farmers.
He noted that the Campaign was targeted to create some 750,000 jobs in the coming 2017 farming season alone.
"It is expected that this figure will more than double in the next farming season in 2018," the Minister-Designate said.
"Apart from the jobs to be created, it is estimated that the "Planting for Food and Jobs" Campaign would generate an additional farm income worth over GH₡ 1.3 billion," he added.
Prof Oduro Owusu said no country could effectively promote national development if it goes about deploying Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in a business-as-usual fashion.
"Deploying ICT in agriculture calls for serious approach and fundamental shifts in policy and orientation of governments, policymakers and end-users such as farmers and relevant stakeholders," he said.
"Modernising agriculture must not be merely an item in the manifesto of political parties; rather strategies of governments must sufficiently be in place for an ICT-enabled transformation of the entire agricultural sector," the Vice-Chancellor said.
He said having in place an e-agriculture policy was the first step towards modernising agriculture through ICTs.
"The critical involvements of government, nongovernmental organisations, the private sector and academia are critical to bring about far-reaching changes to the agriculture sector," he said.
Prof Michael Ayitey Tagoe, the Acting Provost, College of Education and Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, said the aim of this year's School and Conference was to create the platform for passionate discussions on how ICT could be integrated into agriculture, to modernise the sector for sustainable national development.
Dr Ag Bendech Mohamed, Senior Food and Nutrition Officer, the Food and Agriculture Organisation Regional Office for Africa, said the strategic application of ICT to agricultural industry, offered the opportunity for economic group and poverty alleviation.