The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, has 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 Friday September 1,2023.
The minister, together with the Executive Director of the NSS, Osei Assibey Antwi, and some executives, including the Chairman of the NSS Board, Nii Odoi Tetteyfio, toured the vast farmland as they stood in the bucket of a tractor vehicle to see for themselves the progress made so far on the project.
The team also visited a warehouse, where the maize harvested had been bagged, ready to be supplied to the schools.
“I am impressed with what I have seen here today”, the Minister said and added that it would provide food to the National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) under an arrangement to support the free senior high school (SHS) programme and the school-feeding programme.
Already a 1,000-acre maize farm has been harvested, and the harvesting of the 700-acres of rice has begun when the news team accompanied the minister to the site.
In addition, 500 acres of soya, 3,000 catfish and 1,500 tilapias will also be ready for harvesting for the first season, while 800 coconut seedlings have also been planted.
The SKEEP seeks to support food import substitution, ensure food and nutritional security, and attract and retain graduate youth into commercial agriculture and its value chains.
It also seeks to increase production through productivity enhancement techniques and establish training centres and mechanisation centres for the youth.
The Kumawu Traditional Council, under the leadership of the Omanhene, Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua, granted the farmland for the project.
Mr Assibey Antwi, in a brief interview, said the initiative was 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, soyabean, rice and poultry production.
On job creation, he said the first batch of 50 students, who offered agriculture in their various tertiary institutions had been posted to the SKEEP, who after completion of the one year’s service would be provided with land and logistics in order to produce and sell to government at subsidised prices.
“Currently, about 400 people from the nearby communities, with 50 of them permanent workers, are engaged on this project”, he said.
A new 12-bedroom self-contained accommodation with a conference room, which will accommodate national service personnel, is also near completion.