As at 2010, only 35,000 hectares of Ghana's 7.3 million-hectare farmland was under irrigation.
The MCA has shown that we do not need high end technology to irrigate our farming lands. But we do need to train farmers to be able to use simple pumps and take advantage of the numerous water bodies in this region for example. Mr. Chairman, irrigation must be taken seriously if we are to have the desired results in agriculture and an Akufo-Addo government will make the required investment.
As I said, farmers head business enterprises and we will work to provide them with the business skills they need to enhance their productivity and boost their planning skills in order to forestall post-harvest losses. We shall initiate a minimum Guarantee Price System for maize, rice and soya to support farm gate prices.
Mr Chairman, there is much to do in promoting Commercial Agriculture and it remains a largely untapped sector. With only 7.3 million hectares of Ghana's total agricultural land of 13.6 million hectares being under cultivation, the potential for the development of commercial agriculture is vast. Again the MCA has shown that there is a lot to be gained from farmers working together. We shall support farmers with small holdings by providing them with improved seeds and fertilizers to make them much more productive. There are examples of successful commercial size farms that we can copy. We will pick existing winners in commercial farming to give them the requisite incentives and access to funding to push them into major regional and global players.
Mr. Chairman, there is nothing more heartbreaking than a farmer recounting the losses suffered due to perishing produce after harvest. A priority of an Akufo-Addo presidency will be the building of post-harvest infrastructure for preserving the quality of crops during their transportation from the production site to final market destination.
Together with the private sector, we will work to develop pack houses, warehouses and improve our market places so as to ensure effective and efficient distribution and thereby minimize post-harvest losses.
The MCA has shown the way with the construction of the new perishable cargo centre at the airport and pack houses around the country. Our food exports stand a better chance of doing well in foreign markets because of the construction and rehabilitation of the laboratories that make it possible for goods to be certified to international level. Mr. Chairman, our mangoes, our pineapples, the beautiful garden eggs, peppers, cabbages and other vegetables I saw displayed on the road on my way here will get better value with a GlobalGAP sticker on them and we will work to bring the quality of our farm produce to international standards .
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would now like to speak on the plans the next NPP government has for the Fisheries Sector. Not only does fish constitute a substantial portion of the Ghanaian diet, fisheries are essential to the livelihood and economy of Ghana. The Kufuor Government instituted a Ministry of Fisheries to oversee this sector and it was beginning to show good results. I promise that next January, God willing and with your votes, an Akufo-Addo government will bring the Fisheries Ministry back. Fisher folk will have a voice around the cabinet table and their concerns will be articulated at the highest level of government.
Nearly all Ghana's marine fisheries and some inland fisheries are currently being overfished. Sustainable management of our fishing resources is crucial to the livelihood of the sector. A fishing sector where regulations are neither followed nor enforced is not the way forward. We will allocate additional resources for the enforcement of fisheries management policies as set forth in the Fisheries Act of 2002.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the poultry industry in Ghana has been hurting as a result of challenges it faces from imports of chicken from Europe and the Americas. This has led to the collapse of farms around the country. The high cost of inputs like soya and maize for feed, chemicals and even day-old chicks has rendered this once-viable venture an expensive undertaking.
The next NPP government will in collaboration with farmers and feed processors, assist poultry farmers to access cheaper feed ingredients. We will also put in place time-bound import tariff and non-tariff measures to ensure that there is an even playing field for our local producers of poultry and rice to compete on.
Our non-traditional exports have the potential of greatly boosting Ghana's GDP, Sheanut, pineapples, mangoes, bananas and vegetables have been successfully cultivated for export and an NPP government will focus on expanding and increasing efficiency in the farming of these high value cash crops.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I must say a few words on cocoa the cash crop, which has served as the bedrock of Ghana's development for generations. An Akufo-Addo government will continue to provide incentives in our cocoa industry through high producer prices, bonuses, cocoa scholarships, mass spraying and extension services to improve productivity and output. We aim to consolidate production at one million tones per annum and process up to 60% of our cocoa locally by 2018.
Mr. Chairman, agriculture remains the fuel that powers all our activity in Ghana. We ignore it at our risk. I give you my pledge that farmers, food crop farmers, fish farmers and livestock farmers will all have the support and respect they deserve from an Akufo-Addo government. We need to raise agriculture to a higher plane to be able to improve on the quality of life for our people. The NPP has the plans and the will to make it happen and I lead a dynamic and competent team that will show results, not propaganda and misinformation, but concrete, verifiable results.
On December 7, I ask for your votes to make it all possible.
Thank you, God bless you, God bless Ghana.