The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the cost of food is unnecessarily expensive in the country which is blessed with fertile lands.
Underlying the fact that production methods in the agricultural sector were not the best, while income levels of farmers and fishermen remained low, the President said the situation had worked to make the agricultural sector unattractive to the youth as a viable means of livelihood and that the situation ought to be arrested.
He said Information and Communications Technology (ICT) had brought to the fore new ways of doing things, and that given the rapid penetration of ICT in society today, particularly the use of mobile telephony, there was the realisation that ICT should be integrated to be effectively used as a facilitating tool in agricultural development.
The President was addressing the opening session of the annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana, Legon yesterday.
This year’s school is on the theme: “Promoting national development through agricultural modernisation: The role of ICT”.
The four-day programme, being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the University of Ghana, seeks to create a platform for a dispassionate discussion of how ICT can be integrated into agriculture to modernise the sector and increase productivity for sustainable development.
“ICT provides easier access to markets and information as well and I have no doubt that if this is mainstreamed into our agricultural practices, productivity within the sector will be increased, and not only will farmers’ income increase but food security will also be guaranteed,” the President said.
The New Year School, he said, offered a big step towards the establishment of a cycle of initiatives and actions that would make the country’s agricultural sector more productive, durable and smart for the benefit of farmers and the country as a whole.
“We need a comprehensive approach, as stakeholders, in the sharing of expertise to direct this country onto the path of right agricultural development,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said the vision of the government for the next four years was to mobilise agriculture, improve food production efficiency and achieve food security and profitability for farmers as part of efforts to revitalise the agricultural sector.
He said the government would pursue a value-addition strategy aimed at rapidly ramping up agro-processing and developing new and stable markets for the country’s agricultural produce.
President Akufo-Addo said the government placed much premium on the modernisation of the agricultural sector for it to serve as the bedrock of sustainable development for the expansion and transformation of the national economy.
Policies and programmes
The President said although agriculture was the anchor of the nation’s economy, employing almost half of the country’s workforce, growth in the sector had declined dramatically in the last few years.
Throwing more light on intended policies and programmes aimed at revamping the sector, he said: “Our policies and interventions will encompass a whole agricultural value chain to create additional businesses and job opportunities in the areas of storage, transport, processing, packaging and marketing of agricultural produce, so that our farmers and fishermen can earn higher incomes.”
He said district assemblies and traditional authorities would be assigned specific roles in agricultural development and that the government would adopt policies specifically targeted at supporting women in agriculture.