Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto (2nd left), Minister of Food and Agriculture, being supported by Ms. Kati Csaba (2nd right), Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, to perform the symbolic commissioning of the vehicles (below). With them are Ms. Ruby Mills-Palme (left), Coordinator, Modernising Agriculture in Ghana programme, and Mr. Robert Patrick Ankobiah, acting Chief Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has presented 50 double-cabin pickup vehicles to support agricultural operations and extension activities in the six new regions and their districts.
The vehicles, worth over GH¢10 million, are to help the beneficiary regions and districts to deliver effective and timely agricultural services to farmers.
The vehicles were procured through Canada’s support under the Modernising Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) programme.
The programme seeks to strengthen extension services to farmers, establish market linkages for farmers, enhance research, develop and re-orient agricultural colleges to be agri-business inclined.
It is also to create the enabling environment and employ auditing, monitoring and evaluation tools for optimum results.
The sector minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, received the keys to the vehicles on behalf of the regions and districts.
He said the vehicles fell under Component One and Two of the MAG programme under an extended five-year financing agreement spanning the period between 2017 and 2021.
Dr. Akoto said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional one year of no cost extension had been successfully negotiated, pushing the programme end-year to 2022.
“If agriculture in Ghana would be modernised and transformed, then the farmers of this country must benefit from extension services in the form of knowledge transfer, guidance and advice in the application of modern technology, farm management practices and a new orientation of perceiving agriculture as a business,” he said.
According to the minister, that was why the availability of the vehicles for regional and district offices inspired great hope that the new regions and districts would be available to render the needed services on the field to improve farming activities.
Dr. Akoto urged the beneficiary institutions to use the vehicles for their intended purposes.
“It is your obligation to develop a strict maintenance regime with the use of a log book for easy tracking and evaluation of the use of the vehicles by auditors.
“It is important that you take measures to prolong the life span of the vehicles in order to achieve the desired results,” he added.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ms. Kati Csaba, who handed over the vehicles, said they were expected to support the agricultural extension agents to visit farmers regularly and set up demonstrations that would ultimately contribute to a more comprehensive market-oriented approach to farming.
She said Canada recognised that the agricultural sector continued to hold great potential for reducing poverty and inequality in Ghana.
“That is why we are providing Can$125 million of assistance directly to the government of Ghana to help modernise the agricultural sector through the MAG programme,” she said.
According to Ms. Csaba, in the first four years of the implementation of MAG there had been an increase in the adoption of relevant, productivity-enhancing technologies by both female and male farmers in Ghana; the introduction of new market-oriented approaches to farm management, improvement in major crops and much more.
She noted that there was still work to be done through Ghana and Canada’s partnership, adding that, “we will continue to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals of poverty reduction, zero hunger, gender equality and inclusive economic growth”.
The High Commissioner said she was elated that Ghana had witnessed increased empowerment and self-reliance among women in the agricultural sector, adding that women farmers were demonstrating high levels of financial autonomy.
Ms. Csaba added that as a result women were now able to buy land, mould blocks for their own buildings, add rooms to their homes, purchase agro-processing machines to expand their activities and pay children’s fees.