National Service Scheme to revive state farms

Mr. Mustapha Ussif, Executive Director of NSS

The National Service Scheme (NSS) is collaborating with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to start an agricultural project that seeks to cultivate school farms in every region.

The project dubbed Farmer Feeds School (FFS) is aimed at enabling public schools that have fertile lands go into farming due to the enormous benefits endowed in the agricultural sector.

Speaking to the Goldstreet Business, the Executive Director of NSS, Mr. Mustapha Ussif said school farms used to exist and it was vital such projects were revived to boost the country’s food production.

Mr. Ussif added the FFS project is an initiative which will replace the defunct state farms introduced to boost food production in the early period of Ghana’s independence.

He noted the secretariat wants to be the agency to support state farms in each region which will serve as a source of food security and improve food production. He added that, the NSS is repositioning itself to assist government in this direction.

“Starting next year [2019], most of the schools that have arable lands will start school farms. The vision of the NSS is to have farms in every region. Previously, students used to do practical training in their school farms. NSS wants to collaborate with GES to bring it back to boost food produce and sharpen students’ skill in the agricultural sector”, he said.

Mr. Ussif stated that the re-introduction of school farms, using an integrated faring system has enormous benefits the state stands to gain. He stressed that once his outfit is engaging in mechanized farming, it will reduce cost of production and improve yield, leading to reduction in food prices.

Touching on funding and resourcing of the project, the NSS Boss said funding of their interventions has never been a problem and that the secretariat is prepared to resurrect this important initiative.

Planting for Food and Jobs

The Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme which was introduced to improve the agricultural sector of the economy has so far provided 500 jobs, Mr. Ussif said.

He stated the employees cut across all sectors of the project, including the poultry sector. The job areas he said include security personnel and labourers who do different kinds of work such as weed control and loading of farm produce.

Per the revenues from the project, the Executive Director noted that harvesting is still ongoing. However, he said based on the investment put into the initiative, his outfit is expecting to raise more than Ghc800,000 from maize production alone after harvesting over 10,000 bags (kgs) of maize.

Asked which sectors of the economy the proceeds of the project will compliment, he said the revenue will be used to support the country’s IGF system whereas more youths will be engaged in the programme.

He said as an agency, once they are able to generate more revenues in this sector, his office wouldn’t need the state to be funding their internal operations.

Mr. Ussif mentioned that much desires to be done in terms of adequate resourcing of the project for the set target of 5,000 acres of maize production to be achieved in the stipulated period.

“If we get the needed resources and set up a processing plant, it will assist in the processing of poultry feeds not only for the local markets, but for export”, he envisaged.

By Dundas Whigham