The 20th International Biennial Conference to discuss the relevance of animal industry to the growth of the Ghanaian economy and achieving food security has opened on campus.
The four-day conference, on the theme “Positioning the Animal Industry to Achieve Food Security –Role of the Stakeholders,” is being attended by professional scientists from universities, research institutions, farmers in the animal industry, and other key stakeholders.
Organised by the Ghana Society of Animal Production (GSAP), the conference is also to create a platform for participants to underline the need for the government to incorporate animal industry into its flagship agricultural policy programme dubbed “Planting for Food and Jobs”, which, according to GSAP, was geared towards only crop production.
Addressing the opening session of the conference, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. (Dr.) Owusu-Afriyie Akoto, in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture , Hon. George Oduro, said livestock production was a major component of the agricultural economy of Ghana and was clearly beyond direct food production. He noted that the government was committed to continuing the Ghana Livestock Development Policy Document, initiated by the immediate past government, which addresses issues such as livestock input supply, animal production, health and welfare, capacity building, and investment and financing of the livestock sector.
In view of this, Dr. Akoto stated that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) would work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the major policy issues contained in the Livestock Policy Document were comprehensively addressed. This year (2017), he admitted that, although the selected commodities for the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme do not directly involve livestock, the chosen crops for the policy included maize and soya bean which were the major ingredients for livestock feed, especially, poultry.
Dr. Akoto announced that the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF) and other key stakeholders in the poultry industry had submitted a proposal aimed at boosting poultry production for consideration by Cabinet. Consequently, he appealed to major stakeholders along the value chain in the livestock industry to take a cue from GNAPF to form a vibrant association, to make their engagement easier and all inclusive. Dr. Akoto assured participants that MoFA would act swiftly on the communique issued by GNAF at the end of the conference.
In his address, the Central Regional Minister, Hon. Kwamena Duncan, observed that food security was important to the very survival of humankind and must be given the needed attention and support. He said successive governments had made efforts to boost the livestock sub-sector through numerous intervention programmes such as animal husbandry, training workshops for District livestock offices, farmers, and many others.
Additionally, Hon. Duncan said government had made provisions in its recent budget to support 100 livestock farmers from the Central, Eastern and Western Regions with 500 small ruminants of superior breed. He encouraged stakeholders who had interest and the capacity to venture into livestock production to come to the Central Region, which is endowed with diverse agro-ecological zones, favourable climate and irrigation potentials to support the growth of limitless range of crops and livestock.
In his welcome address, the President of GSAP, Prof. Samuel Obeng Apori, called for the establishment of large scale poultry and livestock production in Ghana, stressing that “poultry and livestock production would create millions of jobs in the areas of animal feed ingredients production and processing, marketing of meat, milk eggs and their products, and teaching, research and extension jobs”.
That, he noted, could contribute to solving the unemployment problems facing the country.
Participants, who contributed during an open forum with the representative of the Minister, passionately appealed to MoFA to rebrand its “Planting for Food and Jobs” slogan to “Planting Crops and Raising Livestock for Food and Jobs.