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Implementation of PFJ2.0: Farmers registration begins today

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The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has begun registering interested farmers under Phase Two of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, codenamed PFJ2.0, in all 261 districts across the country.

The registration exercise requires interested farmers and institutions or companies to visit their district agricultural directorate where extension officers will assist them by capturing their data with tablets supplied by the government.

To facilitate the process, a mobile and web application platform, the Ghana Agriculture and Agribusiness Platform (GhAAP), has been developed.

Additionally, agricultural extension agents (AEAs) and other technical officers have been trained in how to use the platform.

Participation

To participate in the programme, farmers or producers must have access to land or a farm, get their profile captured at the district level, be a Ghanaian citizen with a valid Ghana card and engage in farming on prioritised commodity crops, while a company or institution must be legally registered.

Under the programme, a smart farmer, smart farm, and digitised agriculture approach will be implemented using the GhAAP.

Eleven prioritised commodities will be considered under the PFJ2.0. These are poultry, rice, maize, soya bean, sorghum, tomato, onion, pepper, cassava, yam and plantain.

The interesting thing about the PFJ2.0 is that unlike the initial PFJ, which focused mainly on smallholder farmers, the PFJ2.0 includes commercial farmers.

The sector Minister, Dr Bryan Acheampong, who officially announced the registration exercise in Accra yesterday, invited interested farmers and producers to register with their local agricultural extension agents at the District Department of Agriculture.

He said a central digital platform would be used for real-time data capturing, monitoring, and evaluation, with the development of a user-friendly platform to track the programme’s progress.

Comprehensive initiative

Dr Acheampong explained that the PFJ 2.0 programme was a carefully thought out initiative designed to build on the successes of the initial programme while addressing its limitations.

He pledged the commitment of the ministry to the successful implementation of this transformative approach, aiming to empower farmers, enhance productivity, and foster sustainable agricultural development in Ghana.

The minister explained that the PFJ 2.0 programme took a holistic view of the value chain approach by strengthening linkages among actors along selected agricultural commodity value chains and improving service delivery to maximise impact.

Dr Acheampong said a significant difference between PFJ 2.0, and the initial programme was the substitution of direct input subsidy with a smart agricultural financial support system in the form of a zero-interest input credit system, where payment would be in kind.

Touching on the implementation of the programme, he said the potential farmers would secure loans from financial institutions and would be required to pay back in kind, stressing that the programme was private-sector driven.

Dr Acheampong said using the digital platform to capture the data of the farmers and their farms would ensure constant monitoring and the expected production of the farm.

He gave an assurance that the fear of risk had been taken care of under the programme and that with digitalisation, financial institutions would be willing to advance loans to the farmers.

Production

Justifying the need to step up food production in the country, the minister said, for instance in 2022, even though the country required 1.44 million metric tonnes of rice, only 685,000 metric tonnes were realised, representing 48 per cent.

He said that implied that 52 per cent of the shortfall had to be imported to meet the national demand.

He expressed the hope that with the rollout of the PFJ2.0, it was expected that by 2027, the country would have attained self-sufficiency in rice production.

Out of all the 11 prioritised commodities, only maize and the tubers, such as cassava, yam and plantain, exceeded the based self-sufficiency target.

The country, in 2022, produced 90 and 84 per cent of soya bean and sorghum, respectively, while 42 and 38 per cent of onion and pepper were produced.

With poultry, for instance, out of the 324,000 metric tonnes of the national demand, only 15,000 metric tonnes are produced.

SOURCE: GRAPHIC ONLINE