Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has said that as part of measures to modernise and transform the agricultural sector, government will continue with the fertilizer subsidy programme.
The programme, he said, will improve productivity, help achieve food security and crop profitability for farmers.
Speaking at his first budget presentation in Parliament, the Minister said “In 2017, the ministry will continue the fertilizer subsidy programme to help increase the productivity of farmers.
“To this effect, we intend to distribute nationwide, an expected 180,000 metric tonnes of subsidized fertilizer [to farmers].”
The fertilizer subsidy programme was first introduced in June 2008 by the John Kufuor government, covering three types of inorganic fertilizer, Sulphate of Ammonia, Urea and Compound fertilizer.
The programme was designed as in intervention meant to help increase food production at the peak of the global financial, food and energy crisis that was adversely affecting poor countries.
However, this programme, together with the many others introduced to boost the agric sector have not exactly achieved expected results.
The sector has witnessed a steady decline and production levels have fallen consistently over the years.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the Akufo-Addo-led administration will, in the medium term, put measures in place to ensure that the sector bounces back.
This will begin with the launch of the planting for food and jobs campaign. The campaign is designed to encourage all citizens, both urban and rural, to take up farming as a full or part-time activity.
It is intended to be structured along the lines of the erstwhile ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ programme in the 1970s.
The campaign will involve the production of maize, rice, soya beans, sorghum and vegetables, other crops will be adopted in subsequent years.
The Minister said it will be anchored on five pillars; provision of improved seeds, supply of fertilizers, provision of dedicated extension services, marketing and e-agriculture and monitoring.
He added that the initiative is “expected to increase the production of maize by 30 percent from the current production levels, rice by 49 percent, soya beans by 25 percent and sorghum by 28 percent. This will create 750,000 both jobs direct and indirect employment.”
He indicated that the agriculture ministry will provide improved seeds to augment any shortfall for the planting for food and jobs campaign.
On fisheries, Mr Ofori-Atta said efforts have been made over the years to boost both marine and inland fishing and support aquaculture development and government intends to do more.
It will begin with the modernization of fishing methods to ensure sustainable fishing and also improve production levels.
“To modernise and transform the industry, the ministry will complete the first phase of the Anomabo fisheries college to enhance research and knowledge base in fisheries technology for all operators.
“It will also collaborate with relevant institutions and the private sector to develop modern landing sites and storage facilities at Cape Coast, Jamestown and Axim,” he said.