President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the Rearing for Food and Jobs, (RFJ) programme at Wa in the Upper West Region to boost the production of livestock in the country.
The RFJ which would first be piloted in five districts in the Upper West Region, is expected to meet the high demand for meat amongst citizens, increase domestic production, and reduce importation of meat whilst providing jobs for the people.
The five-year programme which would run from 2019 to 2023 was on the theme "Self-sufficiency in meat production - a must."
Launching the programme here yesterday, President Akufo-Addo said it would develop a competitive and more efficient livestock economy to contribute to the creation and improvement of the livelihood of livestock value chain operators.
"Over two decades, livestock farming has seemingly declined in the country due to high cost of production, and competition from cheap imported livestock and its products. This situation has forced most livestock producers to stop producing meat and to concentrate solely on crop production," the President stated.
He said a credible data from the Ghana Statistical Service revealed that Ghana spent more than US$ 400 million on the importation of about 300,000 metric tonnes of cheap meat annually to augment the inadequate supply of meat domestically.
This he said was an indictment on the nation, but had been made possible by the several challenges bedeviling the livestock farmer and the sector, which included inadequate agricultural extension services, inadequate processing services, importation of meat at cheaper prices, inadequate livestock housing structures, inadequate and underutilisation of improved breeds, and inadequate and underutilisation of feed and water resources
"The objectives of the RFJ cannot be achieved if these challenges are not fully addressed within the five-year period, consequently a conscious, committed and more focused effort will be made to address the challenges identified.
"Indeed RFJ has a number of components to address the challenges; these include development of infrastructure, housing, feeding and marketing facilities, feed production and the control of fodder, animal housing and disease control, development of communal grazing lands, commercialisation of livestock production and application of e-agriculture, e-livestock production.
"This will cover cattle, goat, sheep, pigs and guinea fowls," President Akufo-Addo explained.
He indicated that the government would procure and supply at subsidised prices, breeding livestock as projected under the five-year programme that 40,500 small ruminants, 38,000 pigs, 250,000 cockerels and more than 660,000 Guinea fowls would be procured and distributed to farmers, and 3,000 cattle herders would benefit from a programme on free insemination to increase meat production.
President Akufo-Addo said the RFJ was one of his flagship programmes highlighted in the 2016 campaign and was expected to bring in adequate returns as was the case under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
The President charged the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to devise strategic ways by which information would be disseminated to potential beneficiaries on time so that they would patronise the programme to ensure its success.
For his part, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto said the government was determined to increase the gains of agriculture and improve on the performance of the livestock industry to enhance productivity.
He commended stakeholders for their contributions towards the success of the programme.
He said the ministry would use electronic gadgets and applications to be able to manage the data base of the sector efficiently.
The National Vice President and Ashanti Regional Chief of the Fulani Community in Ghana, Mr Osman Bin Ahmed, lauded the RFJ programme, touting it as a timely intervention to addressing the conflicts between herdsmen and indigenes in the country.
He said there were some miscreants who were normally travelling nomads and requested the immigration services to weed out such people and prevent others from entering the country.
The President inspected and handed over samples of livestock to kick-start the programme.