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MoFA imports improved sheep breed to boost livestock farming

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is expecting 700 improved breed of sheep imported from Mali and Burkina Faso for distribution to farmers under the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) programme.
The animals, which are part of an expected large number, are to be cross-bred with local sheep.

A Minister of State in charge of Livestock at MoFA, Dr Nurah Gyielle, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the sheep were being quarantined for 14 days at the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso and would be attended to by veterinary officers to ensure that they were healthy before they were released to farmers.

RFJ module

The animals will be distributed to farmers in the Upper West, Upper East, Northern, Savannah, North East and Oti regions.

A programme to bring into the country improved breed of sheep for cross-breeding with local sheep was launched in June this year and already farmers in the Upper West Region have received the first batch that came in.

The Rearing for Food and Jobs, which is a module under the government’s flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, is focused on persons who are already into animal rearing.

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Livestock farmers will be provided with improved sheep and goats imported from Mali and Burkina Faso, while poultry farmers will be supplied with cockerel and keets from the Netherlands and Belgium.

Cattle farmers will receive semen to artificially inseminate their animals instead of having them transported physically into the country because of their bulky nature.

“Cockerels will be supplied to farmers at 50 per cent of the market value and day-old chicks and guinea fowl keets will be supplied at 50 per cent subsidy to farmers with farm capacity not exceeding 2,000 birds. Cattle farmers shall benefit from subsidised imported semen to improve the meat and milk performance of their cattle,” he said.

He explained that farmers who were interested in the programme but did not have the requisite experience would be supplied with the animals once the existing farmers were able to produce the animals using the improved breed.

Distribution

Dr Gyielle said even though the programme would eventually cover the entire country, it was being executed in the northern part of the country for a start.

He said per the arrangement, each farmer would be given 10 of the improved imported sheep breeds and the farmer, he said, in return, would pay back with two offspring per each adult animal given out.

He said a similar programme would be implemented in the southern sector of the country using pigs and poultry since feed for pigs was more readily available in the south than in the north.

Expected outcomes

The programme will run for five years from 2019 to 2023 and is expected to develop a competitive and more efficient livestock industry as well as increase domestic production, reduce importation of livestock products, contribute to employment creation and improve livelihoods of livestock value chain actors.

The Rearing for Food and Jobs programme has made breed improvement, productivity and production, development of infrastructure (housing, plant and equipment, slaughtering, processing and marketing facilities), feed production and conservation of forage its focus.

The programme is also putting a spotlight on animal health and disease control, development of communal grazing lands, commercialisation of livestock production, entrepreneurship development, and application of e-agriculture in livestock production.

Projection

It is projected that in the five-year period of the RFJ campaign, 40,500 small ruminants, mainly sheep and goats; 38,000 pigs; 258,000 cockerels and over 660,000 guinea fowls, will have been distributed to livestock farmers and would-be farmers across the country.

Three thousand cattle farmers will benefit from the programme to artificially inseminate their cattle as a means of increasing average meat production.
Dr Gyiele said the planned interventions were indicative of the immense value now placed on the livestock sector after many years of neglect.

He was concerned that while Ghana imported $400 million worth of meat products annually, local meat production accounted for only 19 per cent of the country’s meat requirements.

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