The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto has insisted that the government’s flagship programme, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ has yielded its intended targets.

His assertion comes after the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana criticised some aspects of the implementation of the programme, blaming it for the high foodstuff prices in markets across the country.

But addressing the issue, Dr Akoto maintained that the increase in the production of basic foodstuff shows the programme has been a success.

“The PFJ programme has achieved major agricultural advances in Ghana. Comparing yield levels of maize, rice and soya with those before the start of the PFJ programme in 2016, demonstrates striking results: Maize production increased from 1.72 million metric tonnes (MT) to 3.58 million MT (representing an increase of 108%); rice from 687,700 to 1.07 million MT (representing an increase of 56%); Soya from 143,200 MT to 221,400 (representing an increase of 55%).”

“Over the same period, yields increased by 38%, 13% and 4% for maize, rice and soya beans respectively. It is however important to state that these yields are still 40% below the estimated potential, and more has to be done to continue increasing the yields of smallholder farmers in particular,” he said.

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa held the Science and Partnerships for Agriculture Conference in Ghana.

The programme seeks to address key issues in Africa’s agriculture sector with a focus on climate change, technology and innovation.

The central theme for this year’s Science and Partnerships for Agriculture Conference is “Introspection on Climate Smart Agriculture Action to Strengthen Accountability, Resource Use and Impact in Africa”.

Touching on the theme, the Assistant Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Dr Abebe Haile-Gabriel revealed that his outfit is implementing two new strategies to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved within the stipulated time.

“FAO’s strategic framework that will guide our work in the next 10 years aims to support member states in their effort to deal with climate change adaptation and mitigation of agronomic systems. The framework is encapsulated in FAO’s four aspirations namely; better production, better nutrition, better and environment and better livelihoods to leave no one behind.”

“ In this respect, two new FAO strategies are particularly relevant for the deliberations of climate-smart agriculture. The first strategy is on climate change. The second is the technology and innovation strategy that aims to strengthen the use of innovation in any FAO’s intervention and guidance including climate action,” he intimated.