The Planting for Food and Jobs program as part of the budget statement focus for 2017 was initiated by the government to create jobs for Ghanaians and also serve as a boost to the country’s agricultural sector.
The President Nana Akufo Addo during the launch of the program in April 2017 stated, “The Planting for Food and Jobs program is expected to increase the production of maize by 30 per cent; rice by 49 per cent; soybean by 25 per cent; and sorghum by 28 per cent from current production levels. This program will create 750,000 jobs in both direct and indirect employment.”
iWatch Africa in our bid to promote transparency and accountability, decided to conduct a third-quarter assessment of the Planting for Food and Jobs program in the Ho Municipality.
The Desk officer for the Planting for Food and Jobs in the Ho Municipal Assembly, Mr. Stanley Ahlijah detailed the progress of the project as well as the major challenges confronting the initiative.
He revealed that so far about 412 farmers have been registered with 333 males and 78 females.
“Currently, the municipal is responsible for just maize and rice production. Even so, the rice production is yet to take off because of climate reasons. A total of 769.5 and 663.5 hectors of land were allocated to rice and maize production respectively,” he disclosed.
The program according to Stanley is centered on five main pillars which include seed production, extension service, E-Agric, marketing and monitoring & evaluation.
Challenges facing the program;
According to Mr. Ahlijah, one major challenge is inadequate logistics for the effective monitoring of the program. “There is little equipment for the day to day monitoring of the farms. Currently, it is the director’s personal vehicle that is being used to run errands.”
He also revealed that the government promised the municipal about 10 motor bikes and a pick-up vehicle but has failed to deliver them.
“Another major factor that is taking a negative toll on this program is inadequate extension officers” he stated. “So far, it is only seven extension officers that have been engaged in this exercise and that is not encouraging.”
The Desk Officer also maintained that the youth in the community have shown disinterest in the program.
“The young folks are shying away from this occupation because they believe that the white collar jobs are more rewarding and fulfilling .This is affecting production because the strong ones are refusing to engage in this worthy cause. Furthermore, inadequate capital is compelling some farmers to pull out from the program, since they do not have enough funds to pay for the 50% seedlings and fertilizers.”
“Also, a pre-requisite is that farmers are supposed to provide at least an acre of land to qualify for this program and obviously not all farmers own lands or can afford one.”
The program which ultimately seeks to encourage all citizens (both urban and rural) to take up farming as a full or part-time activity has so far not been entirely successful in the Ho Municipality.
iWatch Africa Volta Region correspondent, Ntiamoah Kwame filed this report. (Edited by Philip Banini and Gideon Sarpong)