Business News of 2014-06-21

Commercial agric receives $140 million support

The United States Feed the Future Programme (USFFP) has approved $140 million to support the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project, President John Dramani Mahama has announced. The amount, the President said, would be used to fund part of the medium-term agricultural sector improvement programmes targeted at commercial agriculture.
President Mahama made this known when he received a delegation from the ONE Africa Campaign led by its Executive Director, Dr Sipho Moyo, at the Flagstaff House in Accra yesterday.
ONE Africa is a campaigning and advocacy organisation comprising 3.5 million people who are trying to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly, in Africa.
Giving further details of the project, President Mahama said it would identify young people who would go into commercial agriculture in terms of nucleus farms. The young farmers would at the same time register smallholder farmers around them, support them with mechanisation services, and supply them fertilizer and other inputs to increase productivity.
"So if you have a nucleus farm you have the responsibility registering smallholder farmers and helping them also to secure market for their produce," he said. The President also said the government was working with the Alliance for Green Agriculture, chaired by Mr Kofi Annan, which was investing on a large scale to increase productivity.
President Mahama emphasised the government’s commitment to investments in agriculture, adding "Investing in agriculture is putting our money where our mouths are." Ghana, he said, achieved a surplus of 200,000 metric tonnes in maize production last year.
"That was made possible mostly through the mobilisation of about 80,000 farmers using public-private partnership, President Mahama added. He said the farmers were previously harvesting below one ton of maize per hectare but now they were harvesting between five and six tonnes per hectare on their farms.
President Mahama said since last year, the country had been self-sufficient in maize production "and we gave permit to export maize in order not to severely cut down the prize of maize on the local market."
He also indicated that Ghana had also achieved food sufficiency in yam, plantain and cassava production, adding that rice production had seen a 60 per cent increase in the last three years.
President Mahama said in the next two to three years, the government would focus on producing enough rice to feed the country and for export. Dr Moyo urged African governments to devote much attention to agriculture, since that held the key to the future development of the continent.