The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, had encouraged state institutions to learn from the investment the National Service Scheme (NSS) is undertaking in large-scale commercial farming.
He said there were enormous benefits to be derived from such investments.
The minister made the call when he toured the 20,000-acre Sekyere Kumawu Economic Enclave Project (SKEEP), established by the NSS at Abotantire in the Sekyere Afram Plains district of the Ashanti Region last Monday.
“I am highly encouraged with what I have seen here and for NSS to carry out this huge investment is only commendable,” Mr Acheampong stated.
The minister commended the NSS for undertaking such a big venture and promised the support of the ministry to ensure that the project reaped the maximum results.
He mentioned, particularly, the visionary leadership provided by the NSS management, led by the Executive Director, Osei Assibey Antwi, and his management, for their extraordinary commitment to agricultural development.
The SKEEP, which establishment started last year, is in line with the NSS’s new strategic direction to create a viable ecosystem for the youth to engage in commercial farming focusing on maize, soya beans, rice and poultry production.
Being, arguably, the biggest farming project in the history of the NSS, the project seeks, among other things, to support import substitution, ensure food and nutritional security and attract and retain graduate youth into commercial agriculture and its value chain.
Mr Acheampong asked the farm operators to maintain the standards and use high yielding seedlings so that it could fetch the Scheme the needed returns.
He encouraged the NSS to grow more species of onions and added that the market for onions would be lucrative due to uncertainty in the situation in Niger, a known onion producing country.
The minister and his team of officials from the Ministry were accompanied by Osei Assibey Antwi and other officials of the scheme.
He inspected the aqua culture container ponds, the maize plantations, sorghum, rice and others.
Using a tractor for the tour of the vast farms, the team also visited other large tracts of land which were yet to be cultivated and also toured the irrigation sites where sprinklers had been mounted to give water throughout the crop seasons.
Early on, the team went round the on-site accommodation structure which, when completed, would house NSS personnel who would be posted to work on the farms.
They also visited the NSS storage facility at Agogo where the Scheme had stored produce that had been harvested for sale and distribution.
Feeding the people
Welcoming the minister, Mr Antwi said the idea of large scale farm was to produce to feed the people and support government agencies to run the Buffer Stock and Ghana School Feeding programmes.
Currently, he noted that the Scheme had lands in the Volta, Ashanti, Northern, Bono and Ahafo regions.
He told the minister that the scheme was deploying personnel to the education, police, private and business development sectors.
“This year we have deployed 7,000 persons into the education sector and this has reduced government expenditure by GH¢1.3 billion and we intend to deploy about 5, 000 personnel into farming so that we can work to produce outcomes that would be beneficial to Ghana, ” the NSS Executive Director said.