The Asante-Akim North District of Ashanti is fast establishing itself as the country’s strategic hub for the production and export of some food crops to Ghana’s neighbouring countries notably Togo and Burkina Faso.
For the past six years, farmers in the district with Agogo as its capital, have been exporting their produce namely plantain and water melon to the two countries.
The reason? An effective blend of improved agronomic practices supervised by agricultural extension officers and increased government investments in agriculture laced with the extraordinary hard work of farmers in the area have triggered a massive production of some food crops, particularly plantain resulting in surpluses.
Statistics on plantain export provided by the District Directorate of Agriculture indicate that about 11, 996 metric tonnes of the crop valued at GH?21, 417, 437 was transported to Togo and Burkina Faso in 2015, 13, 445 metric tonnes worth GH?24, 832,125 in 2016, 29,567 metric tonnes costing GH?60, 591,375 in 2017 and 32,188 metric tonnes valued at GH?66,285,594 in 2018.
Last year, 26,325 metric tonnes worth GH? 58,880,625 was exported while a meagre 6,428 metric tonnes worth GH?12,782,250 has so far been exported this year due to a spell of drought and the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Mr Eric Dwomoh, the District Director of Agriculture briefing the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr A. C. Ntim on agricultural activities in the district, during a working visit to the district assembly last Monday, said food crop production had registered a tremendous increase following the advent of the government’s agricultural flagship programme of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ).
The introduction of PFJ, he noted, had gingered up increase in yields and the programme “is on course to increase food security in the district”.
Mr Dwomoh however identified over-reliance on rainfall instead of irrigation and the increasing competition between crop production and afforestation over land as some of the key challenges confronting agriculture in the district.
Responding, the Deputy Minister observed that the “country’s future does not lie in oil or hydrocarbons production but the sustainable development of agriculture and that explains the Akufo-Addo government’s introduction of a package of agricultural initiatives and interventions plus the huge investments in the agriculture sector”.
He explained that the introduction of the PFJ, Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) Modernisation of Agriculture in Ghana (MAG), Rearing for Food and Jobs(RFJ) and the Ghana Productive Safety Net Project (GPSNP) programmes was in furtherance of the government’s avowed determination to prop up agricultural production to stimulate exports, job creation in the rural areas in particular, establish the raw material base for industries, especially the One-District-One-Factory(1D1F) programme and above all, ensure food security.
The government, Mr Ntim stated, “considers agriculture as a critical sector of the economy and farming in general as an enviable career and serious business but not just a menial job and was therefore doing everything possible to transform it into an attractive, highly productive and viable enterprise”.
The deputy minister who is in charge of Rural Economic Development commended agricultural officers in the district for their hard work, particularly under the PFJ and MAG programmes and was hopeful that their shinning performance would be an example to others.
“This is what the Akufo-Addo administration and Ghana expect of you. If we all play our roles as expected of us, Ghana will definitely become the paradise we yearn for,” he declared.
Mr Francis Oti Boateng, the District Chief Executive disclosed that about 75% of cattle owned by itinerant Fulani herdsmen which invaded the district and for a long time harassed farmers have been expelled.