Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, says the ministry is confident the country will record a good crop yield this year despite the numerous global challenges, especially with fertilizer shortage.
“We are very confident. In spite of all what is happening to fertilizer shortages, rocketing fertilizer prices and fuel prices which is affecting prices, we are confident that we will record good yield,” he assured.
Prices of fertilizer on the world market are on record high since the turn of the year due to the rise in prices of raw materials such as ammonia, nitrogen, nitrates, phosphates and potash, the main components of fertilizer.
Russia which accounts for around 14 per cent of global fertilizer exports, has suspended outgoing trade since its invasion of Ukraine in early February this year, exacerbating the situation.
This, experts have warned, could have dire consequences on global food production and food security.
Speaking in an interview with the media after the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB), presented a GH¢600,000 cash prize to Mr Mashud Muhammed, the 2021 National Best Farmer, in Accra, Dr Akoto said there was no need for the public to panic over food shortage hitting the country.
He said the country’s agriculture system was very robust and capable of producing enough to meet local demand as well as for export.
He said, since the beginning of the year, the Ministry had received a lot of interest in the Government’s flagship agriculture programme, the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), from farmers, and this would increase food production as new entrants were rolled onto the initiative.
“Again, we are getting a lot of enquires for machinery. Farmers want to purchase tractors and other machinery, so, interest is very high.
“Where we may lose a bit on yield and therefore on grains, we are going to make it up in terms on acreages that new entrants into the PFJ are going to bring, so, there is no need for anybody to panic,” he said.
He added that: “We have a very solid agriculture system which is going to make progress now and then and forever.”
The Minister also denied reports in sections of the media that the country was importing cassava from China to feed its factories.
He said, even though the country imported lots of items from around the world, it was not importing cassava as the country had the capacity to produce enough to feed the factories.
He urged the banks, especially commercial banks, to come on board, partner the ministry and farmers.
Dr Akoto said it saddened him that, despite the advantages presented by the Government’s PFJ programme, commercial banks had failed to take advantage of it and invest in the sector.
While lauding the ADB for its unflinching support to the sector over the years, he appealed to management of the bank to increase its capital support to farmers to boost production.
Dr John Kofi Mensah, Managing Director of ADB, said the bank remained committed in ensuring that the agriculture sector continued to play its critical role in the national economy.
“ADB remains a major partner for all agriculture related project, government flagship programme such as planting for food and jobs, rearing for food and job, planting for export and in law development and the agriculture component of 1D1F initiative,” he stressed.
To enable the bank to expand its support to farmers and fishers, Dr Mensah urged government to make ADB the receiver of bulk concessional funding in the sector.
“We at this moment are also saying that ADB should be the bank to receive bulk concessional funding so that we can rechannel it to our honourable farmers and fishers,” he appealed.
By Benjamin A. Commey, GNA