The Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Professor Patrick Monty Jones has recently disclosed that government is spending about fifteen million dollars ($15M) on the importation of onions.
Because of this, he went on, his ministry has brought in five metric tons of assorted vegetables which should include onions and they want to provide this because the country is spending “$15M dollars to import onions, something that we can grow. We cultivate onions in six districts, so we are going to make sure that these seeds get to the farmers and we increase production”.
The Agriculture Minister said they want to increase agricultural production and productivity and enhance commercial agriculture development and to able to do that they would want to do it in the near future.
“We want to make sure that our farmers access quality and improved inputs, we want to provide one thousand six hundred (1, 600,000) metric tons of seed rice to the farmers. This goes beyond what is required to satisfy the fifty thousand (50,000) farmers we are targeting to give this improved input,” the minister said, adding that “We have got 42,000 bags of fertilisers and we are working to have 100,000 of 50 kg bags of fertilisers which will include MPK and urea. This we are going to get before the end of this season as we are making plans for that and they will go out for immediate use of these farmers. “
Professor Monty Jones further said he believes that in two seasons we should be able to achieve self sufficiency with some of these commodities we are mentioning now. Also, to be provided are assorted machines like power tillers, few tractors for combined farm weeders and threshers and harvesters so that “we go into commercial agriculture. I believe that even if you are subsistent farmer you should weed enough weeds, make sure that after subsistent farming is used for your food, the extra should go to the market to increase the income of the farmers.”
Minister Jones said they also have 100,000 litres of assorted abecide and pesticides, all of which they are ready to give out and would be delivered soon. “We have nine million seed line of cashew, cocoa, oil palm, coffee, citrus that are ready to go out, these are parts of the things that will go out.”
Speaking about agricultural plan for the country, the MAFFS minister said his ministry had come up with an agriculture plan which coincided with the post-ebola recovery plan of 10-24 months. “So, we have come up with a programme that will cover 2016 and part of 2017 and align with the Presidential initiative which is very key”.
He said this is key because within that period, there are certain things agriculture needs to accomplish. “So, looking at 15 months period we look at what we want to achieve in each five months till we get to the 15 months”.
The minister said there is another, which is in the Agenda for Prosperity, and for 2035 “there is a vision we must try to achieve, that this country should attain an inclusive middle income country status. So, what should agriculture do in 2035? We should be able to have an idea of what we should be able to do, to get there we should be able to propel growth to develop not only within agriculture but in other sectors of the economy”.