President Akufo-Addo says the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) is expected to be a game changer for the Ghanaian economy.
The programme aims to promote rural economic growth and improve household incomes of rural farmers.
Under the program, farmers will receive certified improved seedlings, extension services, business support and regulatory mechanisms.
Speaking at the launch at the Nursing and Midwifery Training College Park at Dunkwa–On–Offin in the Central Region, President Akufo-Addo said the program will not only stabilize the cedi but also create jobs.
“By design, this is expected to be a game changer giving its focus on the development of tree crops and the consequential benefit to be accrued from the programme. Key among them is the programme’s protection to address the critical issue on foreign exchange earning capacity of the economy. I raised this issue in the context of the stability of the local currency – a matter that has generated considerable heat in recent times especially, on the political landscape. The obvious cause of the instability in the exchange rate is the imbalance between the supply of and demand for the exchange rate.”
“The resulted increase in the demand for foreign exchange on rising imports to meet our huge import bill has not been matched by our capacity to earn more foreign exchange. For years we have been at the receiving end of this imbalance without taking strategic steps, to address the issues including the accelerated industrialization of our economy to lessen its dependence on foreign imports. In the agriculture sector, we need to grow our exports and reduce drastically, our food imports which have shot through the roof in the last decade. This is what the flagship planting for food and jobs seeks to do”, Akufo-Addo added.
President Akufo-Addo also added that his government will establish relevant institutions to regulate tree crop development in the country.
“Following the overwhelming success, of the food crop component of PFJ, we are fully committed to turning our attention to the development of selected tree crops. To reflect this commitment, the government is changing the necessary steps towards the establishment of the relevant institutions, to regulate tree crop development in the country. A draft Bill for the development of the tree crop sector will shortly be approved by cabinet prior to its submission to parliament. The Bill when passed by parliament, will establish the tree planting development authority. The proposed authority will provide policy direction and regulation for the development of the sector.”
Government through the joint effort by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry of Food and Agriculture rolled out the PERD programme to develop nine commodity value chains namely Cashew, Coffee, Cotton Coconut, Citrus, Oil Palm, Mango, Rubber and Shea through a decentralised system.
The programme seeks to create a sustainable raw material base to spur up the industrialisation drive for One District, One Factory initiative.
The 5-year PERD programme will support one million farmers in 170 districts with certified free planting materials to cover over one million hectares of farmlands.
It will also engage 10,000 young graduates as crop specialized extension officers.