The government says some 900,000 people are in gainful employment as a result of its flagship agricultural development programme.

This is a 155,000 increase from the 2017 figure given by the Agric Minister, Owusu Afriyie-Akoto.

The Planting for Food and Jobs programme, the Agric Minister says has increased the yield of farmers, requiring more hands.

“The demand for labour is shooting through the roof,” he told JoyNews’ PM Express programme on Wednesday.

The Minister says these persons are on the farms, taking part in the application of fertiliser, harvesting of produce, and charting the harvest to storage and markets.

Jobs under Planting for Food and Jobs increase to 900,000 - Agric Minister

The calculation is done by experts, he told the host of PM Express, Evans Mensah.

Dr. Afriyie-Akoto is very confident of the success of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme that he says the government could ban the importation of rice by 2022.

At the moment, rice importation alone takes 82 per cent of all imports into the country.

This cost more than $1billion, almost two per cent of the country’s GDP in 2018.

Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto says the government is working fervently to “establish the local capacity” to meet demand.

He said this should be completed in the next three years. After that, merchants would be expected to trade with local farmers.

Planting for Food and Jobs

The government has been selling fertilisers to farmers at subsidised rates as part of the planting for food and jobs programme.

The Minister says with 50 per cent government subsidy on fertilisers for smallholder farmers, a farmer who was previously producing three bags of rice per acre was now producing 10 bags.

The Minister argues that the number of the workforce needed when the farmer is producing 4 bags of maize per hectare would sure shoot up if he is now producing more than ten times the amount.

“It is not possible” to use the same amount of labour, he said.