Ghana — Vice President Kwesi Amissah- Arthur has expressed the need for the citizenry to adhere to acceptable standards of handling and preserving fish as well as adopting safe practices to prevent bushfires in the dry season.
He said despite Government efforts to increase the share of value addition in the fishing sector to improve value chain development, some people resort to illegal fishing practices by using chemicals, unapproved net sizes that have negative impact on fisheries and aquaculture development.
“Let me therefore take this opportunity to advise stakeholders in the fish production chain, in their own interest and that of the nation to adhere to acceptable standards for the handling and preservation of fish,” the Vice President said in Sogakope in South Tongu District of the Volta Region, on Friday at the 29th National Farmers’ Day.
The day, which was on the theme: “Reducing Post Harvest Losses for Sustainable Food Security and Nutrition,” attracted distinguished farmers from the 10 regions, who were recognised with various awards for their gallantry and selflessness in food production.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur used the occasion to draw attention to the ravages of bushfires and the need for safety practices to curb the incidence, especially in the rice producing areas.
“Bushfires result in degrading the environment and impact on climate change. The effects of climate change on agriculture are of concern as it affects food security.
“Let us as citizens guard against indiscriminate lighting of fires that destroys our fields and the environment,” the Vice President said.
The Vice President, who stood for President John Mahama, who is on an official assignment in France, commended Ghanaian farmers and fishers for hard work, and led the durbar to observe some minutes of silence for the late Nelson Mandela, first black President of South African who died on Wednesday, December 5.
The Vice President noted that Ghana’s experience of 30 to 40 per cent post harvest losses in agriculture affects food security and human needs.
He said the choice of planting, harvesting and farm gate storage, packaging, transportation and storage are some of the causes of post harvest losses.
The Vice President said post harvest losses are economic drain to the nation.
Against this backdrop, the Government in its medium term policy, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda, provided strategies, which included the provision of storage facilities such as silos, pack houses and warehouses for the creation of national buffer stock to ensure food security.
“The National Food Buffer Stock Company continues to purchase and store grains to ensure food availability and intervenes in the market to ensure affordable, but competitive prices at all times.”
Vice President Amissah-Arthur said, Government is addressing the post harvest system through production, procurement and use of small-scale multi-purpose machinery and equipment along the value chain from gate to storage.
He said Government has provided combined harvesters to farmers across the country, and making available to 2,000 smallholder farmers certified warehouse for grain storage, as well as measures to improve the livelihoods of the citizens.
The Vice President announced that Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture has completed the construction of cold stores at Prampram, Half Assini, Shama, Kormantse and Nyanyano, with plans afoot to construct a similar facility in Takoradi.
Additionally, several landing sites are being built in strategic locations along the shorelines for the benefit of the local fish industry.
Other interventions include the expansion improvement in the road infrastructure as well as the development of Farmer Based Organisation, and value addition to raw materials.
Mr Clement Kofi Humado, Minister of Food and Agriculture said his sector Ministry, has targeted the reduction of post harvest losses from 30 to 20 per cent cereals and legumes, achieved a level of 20 per cent post harvest loss for roots and tubers, and 20 per cent for fruits such citrus and vegetables up to 2016.
He called on Ghanaians especially entrepreneurs to invest into technologies and facilities to support agricultural development and to create jobs.
Mr Nayon Bilijo, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development repeated the call for the use of approved methods of fishing to protect marine species.
Mr Philip Abayori, President of the National Association of Award Winning Farmers and Fishers reiterated the call for more credit for farmers and fishers.
The overall National Best Farmer went to Alhaji Awudu Karim, from Paga in the Upper East Region, who was also the 2010 National Best Farmer.
His prizes included a three-bedroom fully furnished house, a set of farm machinery and a trip outside the country.
The first-runner up was Mr Abdulai Antiku Seidu from Nadowli in the Upper West Region, and the second runner up Mr Edward Maxwell Ahenkorah from Kumasi.