About four million coffee seedlings have been raised and distributed to farmers across the country.
Further to this, nine million cashew seedlings are ready and undergoing grafting to be supplied to Ghanaian farmers.
Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Collins Ntim, who announced this, said the distribution of seedlings forms part of government’s Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme which seeks to develop eight commodity value chains including cashew, coffee, cotton, coconut, citrus, oil palm, mangoes and shea.
Designed to complement the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative, he said over 1.1 million oil palm seedlings have been procured for onward distribution farmers.
Speaking at a press launch of Asili Coffee, a local coffee making company, in Accra yesterday, Mr Ntim said in addition to the 6,000 coconut seedlings that have been arranged to be distributed to farmers at no cost, 74 cashew extension officers have received training in modern cashew grafting and agronomic practices.
In all, he said 55 districts have been programmed for coffee, 98 for cashew, 14 for shea, 20 for coconut, 36 for oil palm, 20 for citrus, 20 for mango and 14 for cotton and about 200,000 farmers were expected to benefit from the support within the 2018 pilot year.
The Deputy Minister said the initiative was expected to create jobs for the youth, mitigate the effects of climate change, increase household income in the rural areas and establish a sustainable raw material base to spur up the decentralised industrialisation drive through One District One Factory programme.
Mr Ntim noted that the five-year PERD programme was expected to support 770,000 farmers in 168 districts with free planting materials for the eight crops identified and validated to cover about 1.5 million hectares of farmlands while about 5,900 young graduates would be engaged as crop specialised extension assistants.
To consolidate the results of the programmes, he said the Ministry in collaboration with other relevant sector ministries has established in each district an institutional mechanism to coordinate and harmonise all commercial, entrepreneurial and agricultural initiatives towards achieving viability and sustainability of economic development and job creation at the district level.
The Chief Executive Officer of Asili Coffee Company, John Francois, said the company’s long term goal was to export coffee to other countries to boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
To achieve this, he said the company would ensure they produce to meet international coffee standards to gain positive reaction from the local market, experiment exportation and produce in large quantities to be able to serve the foreign market.
Former President John Agyekum Kufour stressed the need for local entrepreneurs to explore adding value to Ghana’s export commodities to create jobs and grow the economy.
BY Claude Nyarko Adams And Deborah Asuma
Copyright Ghanaian Times. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).