Mr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister for Food and Agriculture, says the agriculture sector grew by 4.7 per cent in 2019, followed by 7.4 per cent in 2020 and 8.4 per cent in 2021.
He said with the rains this year, it was expected that the substantial growth performance of recent years would be repeated this year.
He attributed the earlier significant gains to the investment the government made in various subsectors of agriculture.
Mr Afriyie Akoto said this on Wednesday when he delivered a statement on the floor of Parliament on the impending celebration of the 38th National Farmers Day on the theme: “Accelerating Agriculture Development through Value Addition”, to be held at the Jubilee Park of the Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua, from Tuesday, November 29 to Friday, December 2, 2022.
The National Farmers’ Day was instituted by the Government of Ghana to recognise the demanding work of persons in the agricultural sector.
Mr Afriyie Akoto said the rapid growth in recent years had increased the share of the agriculture sector in Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 18 per cent in 2016 to 22 per cent by 2021.
“Mr Speaker, these impressive results were posted by the sector against all odds, when multiple external shocks and unfavourable external global conditions impacted every economy including Ghana,”.
He added that notable impacts in the sector were visible in the food crop sub-sector, where farmers received help from subsidised inputs programmes and millions of seedlings of six selected tree crops distributed free of charge to farmers throughout the country as part of the diversification agenda of the government.
According to him, the government recognised the impressive performance of the agricultural sector was due to the sacrifices and tireless efforts of heroic farmers.
“As a people, the least we can do therefore is to continue to celebrate and reward our farmers with rising farm productivity and income,” he said.
Mr Afriyie Akoto acknowledged that while the supply chain had been disrupted resulting in an acute shortage of critical inputs like fertilizer, the animal sector had also been hit by diseases such as swine flu and highly pathogenic avian influenza with farmlands destroyed by galamsey activities.
He pledged and called for collective responsibility towards the development of the country’s agriculture sector being the main driving force.
“Mr Speaker, the theme aligns with the government’s vision of modernizing and transforming agriculture, relevant objectives of the President’s Coordinated Programme of Socio-economic Development Policies, and the Sustainable Development Goals one and two which advocate the eradication of extreme poverty in all forms and zero hunger, respectively.
“The theme also highlights the government’s recognition and commitment to sustainable development and transformation of Ghana’s agriculture as well as signifies the government’s appreciation of the need to fully harness the potential of agriculture,” he said.
The Minister said the strategic intervention and the success of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign, informed the government’s efforts to address the long-standing problems of Ghana’s agriculture.
Mr Alban Bagbin, Speaker of Parliament appreciated the sacrifices and arduous work of the patriotic farmers and fishers and said, “I will be engaging leadership for us to move from only celebrating in words but indeed to get closer to the farmers going forward.”
Mr Issifu Seidu, MP, Nalerigu/Gambaga for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), said the theme was right and prompt where Ghana could only grow as a nation by adding value to what they produced and lamented the low significant yield this year by attributing it to inputs given out.
“Mr Speaker, we can only celebrate decent food, good fertilizer, good roads, and storage facilities,” and urged the ministry to add value to the sector.
Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, NPP MP, Akim Abuakwa South, called for the theme to translate into a reality that would move farming in the country from ancient agriculture and there was a need for policies and undertakings that were not helping the farming sector to be channeled to focus on agriculture’s substantial gains.
“We should be able to produce chocolate of better quality than what Switzerland produces,” he said.
Mr Atta Akyea also expressed shock at the shortage of wheat supply in the country due to Russia/Ukraine war and called for better ways that the country could explore to add value to its resources.
Mr Eric Opoku, NDC MP for Asunafo South, congratulated them for their challenging work and spirit of ensuring that food was available regardless of the challenges and noted that the lack of investment and financial commitment to the agricultural sector retarded its development.
He, therefore, called on leaders to avail resources to the sector and thereby use them to create job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth.
“Mr Speaker, I hope that awards will be given to deserving farmers accordingly devoid of partisan basis,” he said.
Mr Joseph Frempong, NPP MP for Nkawkaw, and Chairman of the Agricultural Committee of Parliament, saluted farmers, and fishers for their contribution to the sector and country over the years.
He implored corporate Ghana, agencies, MPs and stakeholders to do their bid to support farmers towards food production sustainability.