The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has taken delivery of 50 double cabin pick up vehicles to aid agricultural operational and extension activities in six new regions and districts.
The 50 vehicles worth over GHS10 million would help the newly created regions and districts to deliver effective and timely agricultural services to all farmers.
The vehicles were procured through Canada's support under the Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) Programme.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, who received keys to the vehicles for onward distribution to the newly created regions and districts, said the vehicles fell under component one and two of MAG programme under an extended five-year financing agreement spanning the period 2017 and 2021.
Dr. Akoto said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional one-year no cost extension has been successfully negotiated and would end in 2022.
The MAG programme seeks to strengthen extension services to farmers, establish market linkages for farmers, enhance research, developing and re-orienting agricultural colleges to be agri-business inclined, creating the enabling environment and auditing, monitoring and evaluation of the programme for optimum results.
The Minister said, "If agriculture in Ghana would be modernized and transformed, then the farmers of this country must benefit from extension services in the form of knowledge transfer, guidance and advice in the application of modern technology, farm management practices and a new orientation of perceiving agriculture as a business."
According to the Minister, that was why the vehicles for Regional and districts offices inspired great hope that the new regions and districts would be able to render the needed services on the field to improve farming activities.
Dr Akoto urged the beneficiary institutions to put the vehicles to good use, saying, "It is your obligation to develop a strict maintenance regime with the use of a log book for easy tracking and evaluation of the use of the vehicles by auditors. It is important that you take measures to prolong the life span of the vehicles in order to achieve the desired results."
Madam Kati Csaba, High Commissioner of Canada to Ghana, who handed over the vehicles, said they were expected to support Agricultural Extension Agents to visit farmers regularly and set up demonstration activities that would ultimately contribute to a more comprehensive market -oriented approach to farming.
Madam Csaba said Canada recognized that the agriculture sector continue to hold great potential for reducing poverty and inequality in Ghana.
"That is why were are providing 125 million Canadian dollars of assistance directly to the Government of Ghana to help modernize the agricultural sector through the MAG programme.
According to Madam Csaba, in the first four years of MAG implementation, there had been increase in the adoption of relevant, productivity-enhancing technologies by both female and male farmers in Ghana, the introduction of new market-oriented approaches to farm management, improvement in major crops and much more.
Madam Csaba noted that there was still work to be done through Ghana and Canada's partnership, adding that "we will continue to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals of poverty reduction, zero hunger, gender equality and inclusive economic growth.
She was elated that Ghana had witnessed increased empowerment and self-reliance among women in the agricultural sector, adding that women farmers were demonstrating high levels of financial autonomy and as a result they were now able to buy land, mould blocks for their own buildings, add rooms to their homes, purchase agro-processing machines to expand their activities and pay fees for their children.
Mr. Robert Patrick Ankobiah, Acting Chief Director, MoFA, recalled that agriculture has been the backbone of Ghana's economy hence the need to provide more infrastructure to boost agricultural activities, including extension services to farmers.
Mr. Amatus Deyang, Director of Agriculture Services Directorate, MoFA, took delivery of the keys of the vehicles for onward distribution to the regions and districts.