The government has injected over $269 million worth of agricultural equipment in the agricultural sector since 2017, in fulfilment of its promise to mechanise agriculture in the country.
The equipment, which is from the Czech Republic, India and Brazil, includes heavy duty tractors for commercial farmers, multi-purpose machinery such as multi-crop threshers, maize shellers, mechanical planters, cereal harvesters, motorised sprayers and hand-held tractors for smallholder farmers.
So far, about 4,862 pieces of such machinery have been distributed to farmers, while those recently received will be distributed to farmer groups, selected district assemblies and individual farmers for sale at a 40 per cent discount.
Array of equipment The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, disclosed this when he conducted the Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Kobby Asmah, round a large consignment of machinery the ministry had taken delivery of at the Agricultural Engineering Services Directorate in Accra.
The tour of the machinery was to give the editor the opportunity to appreciate the government’s drive to mechanise agriculture by investing heavily in agricultural equipment.
The minister and Mr Asmah were conducted round by the Director of the directorate, Mr Amatus Deany.
Briefing the editor after the tour, Dr Akoto explained that the essence was to make agriculture more efficient and increase the surpluses of food producers.
He explained that the delivery of the equipment from Brazil was in three tranches, and that the ministry had already taken delivery of the first two and expected to receive the last tranche by the end of the year.
He added that the equipment from the Czech Republic was hand-held machinery for ploughing, sowing and harvesting meant for smallholder farmers.
Agro-processing Dr Akoto explained that a facility from the Indian Exim Bank was making available $150 million for farm machinery.
“With this facility, only a small portion will be invested in on-farm machinery; the rest will be focused on machinery for agro-processing,” he explained, adding that because of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, there were food surpluses and the country needed to process them to add value in order to generate jobs and better market prices.
He was hopeful that with such machinery, food items would be processed for sale, both locally and even on the international market.
Farmer groups Speaking on the equipment from the Czech Republic, Dr Akoto said recently the ministry took delivery of mostly hand-held equipment from the Czech Republic for distribution to individual farmers and farmer groups, while some would be given to 53 identified district assemblies at a heavily discounted price of 40 per cent.
He explained that the farmer groups were between 20 and 800 members in a group and they would be given the machinery on a payment plan.
He said the ministry started the formation of the farmer groups in 2017 with only 11, increasing to 22 in 2018, and in 2019 the number shot to 53 and 104 in 2020.
“Through these groups, we are supplying farmers with improved fertilizer and seeds and now we are going to give them this equipment and machinery for them to pay by instalment,” he disclosed.
Dr Akoto explained that the ministry was now dealing directly with farmers and farmer groups because in the past when such equipment was given to the district assemblies for distribution to farmers, it never reached the farmers, who were the targeted beneficiaries.
Commercial farmers He explained that the ministry was leaving out commercial farmers in the mechanisation drive, “and that is why we included this heavy duty machinery, and in all the cases this government has given them 40 per cent discount”.
“This is huge, it has never happened before in West Africa; even in the whole of Africa, and this shows the commitment of this government to agriculture.
We are going to carry on like this until we see a total transformation,” the minister said.
He was quick to add that the transformation was already being realised, with the level of commitment demonstrated to the Planting for Food and Jobs programme “which has encouraged the government to put more and more money into the agricultural sector”.
Impression In a brief remark after the tour, Mr Asmah said he was hopeful that the machinery would transform the face of agriculture in the country.
“Definitely the future looks bright for us,” he said, adding that he was excited by the array of varied machinery available for farmers.
He said he was particularly happy that the ministry was dealing directly with farmers and farmer groups who were the targets, such that there was no intermediary between them and the equipment.