Hon. Woyome questions Agric Minister on steps being taken to assist vegetable farmers in South Tongu

Honourable Kobena Mensah Woyome
Honourable Kobena Mensah Woyome

Member of Parliament for South Tongu Constituency Honourable Kobena Mensah Woyome has questioned the Minister for Food and Agriculture Hon. Owusu Afriyie Akoto on the floor of Parliament to give steps the Ministry is taking to assist okro and other vegetable farmers in the South Tongu District as a way of adding value through processing to maintain stable prices on the market to prevent post-harvest losses.

In the South Tongu District of the Volta Region, communities such as Tordzinu, Tsavanya, Hikpo, Agbagorme, Agbakope, Lakpo, Dabala, Dabala Junction among many are into major vegetables farming as a means of livelihoods.

In view of this, the Lawmaker has filed a motion requesting the Minister for Food and Agriculture to outline the plans being taken by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government to support the vegetable farmers within the area.

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In responding to Mr.  Kobena Mensah Woyome questions, the Minister for Food and Agriculture started by assuring the august House that, vegetable production in the country is a major priority of the Ministry.

According to him, among others, the establishment of three (3) Greenhouse technology villages in Greater Accra (Dawhenya), Central (Bodwiase) and Ashanti (Akomadaa) Regions amply attest to this assertion.

Mr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto said, the South Tongu District is well known for its productions of vegetables particularly okro. However, high and persistent post-harvest losses have constituted a major drawback to the efforts of the hardworking farmers of the district.

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The Minister notes that, the situation is exacerbated by inadequate knowledge of value addition practices to secure farmer income.

He explained that, studies confirm that, value addition is the panacea to the problem of post -harvest losses and should be encouraged especially in respect to high perishable agriculture products such as vegetables.

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTIONS

Consequently, the Minister said, his Ministry has rolled out a number of interventions to support vegetable farmers including those in the South Tongu District.

For example, the Ghana Per-urban Vegetables Value Chain Project (GPVVCP) which ended in June 2020 covered four (4) Districts including the South Tongu District.

The project was funded by a grant of US$ 2.85 million from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) drawn from a trust arrangement with the World Bank.

Mr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto disclosed that, supervision of the project was undertaken by Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through the Directorate of Crop Services (DCS) whilst management support and project coordination was assigned to the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP).

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In the area of irrigation, the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) provided requisite technical support to meet the Project Development Objective of the improving productivity, and market access by beneficiary vegetable farmers in selected peri-urban communities in Ghana including Hikpo in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region.

The knowledge required from the project by beneficiary farmers include technical and managerial capacity in baseline, market survey, business analysis and improved record keeping.

“Mr. Speaker, the farmers also benefited from training in Soil and Nutrient Management and participatory scenario planning to mitigate the negative impact of climate change in production activities.” The Minister said.

He further said, farmers of Hikpo received training under the Ghana Green Label Certification Scheme to access high-value markets.

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Mr. Akoto added that, presently, the certified farmers have been linked to an exporter who has established a business relationship with them.

Aside this support, farmers continue to benefit from the subsidised fertilizer and improved seeds provided under the planting for Food and Jobs Campaign and related programme implemented by the South Tongu District Department of Agriculture.

The Ministry is very much abreast with vegetable farmer activities and the South Tongu District through monitoring reports on extension services provided by farmers under the supervision of Department of Agriculture in the district.

“Mr. Speaker, the primary objective of the “Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Campaign” is to ensure food availability in the country at all times to guarantee sustainable national food security.”

“By design, the campaign also aims at providing job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth, enhance and secure farmer incomes as well as support Ghana’s industrialization drive.”

“Towards this objectives, the PFJ campaign has in the five years, promoted the cultivation of staples namely: maize, rice soyabean sorghum, groundnut and cowpea.”

The Minister for Food and Agriculture also explained that, the programme also offers support to vegetable farmers engaged in the cultivation of tomato, onion, pepper, carrot, lettuce, cabbage and cucumber.

SOURCE: Coverghana.com.gh

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