BUILD THE CAPACITY OF AGRICULTURE
OFFICERS IN ASHANTI REGION.
Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is an initiative by the NPP government with a direct funding from the Canadian government. The program is basically to encourage more Ghanaians to take up farming as an enterprise, and also consider farming as a business. Upon the introduction of this program, PFJ has created a lot of jobs in the agriculture value chain.
Our economy depends highly on Agriculture, and one region which has contributed immensely to the success of this program is the Ashanti region. The region has continuously exceeded the yearly regional targets and keeps on registering more farmers into this program.
In 2007, Ashanti region registered 459 more farmers on top of the 20,000 target. In 2018, the region took the numbers to a record high to over 133,000 with the target pegged at 80,000. This remarkable feat continued in the subsequent years and as at the third quarter of 2020, the region was closer to achieving the target of 300,000.
From the aforementioned achievements, one could clearly understand and appreciate the efforts of the region’s department of Agriculture for making this possible as these achievements could not have been possible without the support of the Regional, Municipal and District Agriculture officers and Agriculture extension officers.
Many success stories have been recorded in the region. Other farmers have also given accounts on how they’ve benefitted from this policy and how this policy has improved their livelihoods.
The Canadian government, understands the need to educate and ‘polish’ the service and technology delivery techniques of the extension officers in the country to ensure the successful implementation of the PFJ policy. The Canadian government under the auspices of Modernising Agriculture in Ghana (MAG), has enrolled a parallel program to the PFJ dubbed Technical Education Development for Modernized Agriculture in Ghana (TEDMAG) which primarily focus on renewing farmers and agriculture value chain actors mentality towards Agriculture and transforming agriculture in Ghana.
TEDMAG has introduced new dimensions to extension services and delivery in Ghana. These includes; enhancing the relationship between farmers and value chain aggregators and extension officers and the need for farmers to consider agriculture as a business.
There’s been a series of stakeholders engagement and trainings for extension officers across the country since the inception of this progect in 2017.
The Department of Agriculture which operated fully under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been absorbed into the Local Government Services and its being regulated and coordinated by the various Municipal and District Assemblies.
Extension officers, irrespective of their operational areas in the past have had the opportunities from the Agriculture ministry to travel abroad to partake in trainings and workshops. A few others have been awarded with scholarships to further their studies in different countries across the globe. The trend has change now.
Unlike in the past where the ministry sought out to select extension officers from different districts and municipalities for this academic and experience pursuit, now word about this opportunities is rarely shared in the ministry.
Its not clear if this opportunities still exist but do not leave the capital or the Local Government Service has hijacked and traded off these opportunities to other employees in other sectors?
The sector minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie has an impeccable experience in Agriculture and better understands the impact of these trainings and workshops. Focus should be redirected to this important exercise. When the extension officers are well equipped with experience and knowledge, it goes a long way to help enhance the implementation of Agriculture policies and programs in the country.
Ashanti Region was adjudged the leader of the PFJ in 2020, and has proven its commitment towards the implementation of PFJ policy. In one stretch, its appropriate to suggest that Agriculture extension officers in the region are equally worthy of a special mention and also are better poised for consideration for such important opportunities.