The Wa West District Assembly has begun the distribution of cashew seedlings to farmers in the district as part of the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme instituted by the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The District Chief Executive of the area, Hon Edward Sabo Laabiir, at a brief ceremony to commission the distribution at Ga, where the seedlings are being nursed, disclosed that, a total of 600,000 cashew seedlings will be distributed to 2,940 individual farmers who have registered and some communities in the district. He said farmlands that will be cultivated in beneficiary communities will be handed over to the communities once the trees are matured.
According to Hon Sabo Laabiir, the Wa West District had projected to raise over one million seedlings in 2020, but could only raise 600,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He noted it is still a great achievement as other districts in the region could not match the feat. Mr. Laabiir was confident that, if the 600,000 are well managed, the district will become the highest grower of cashew which will improve the economy and living standard of the Wa West people.
The Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) is an initiative by government to complement the Planting for Food and Jobs programme. The objective of the initiative is to create a sustainable raw material base for industries. It is also to propel economic growth and provide household income for rural farmers. The PERD initiative is a five-year decentralized programme that targets about one million farmers to cultivate at least one acre of a tree crop.
The Wa West District adopted cashew as the tree crop to grow and has since raised over one million seedlings for farmers. According to the DCE, the district in 2018 and 2019 raised and distributed to farmers a total of 580,000 cashew seedlings. In all, the district has raised 1,180,000 cashew seedlings. This will therefore translate into over 29,000 acres of cashew cultivated lands in the district, given that every acre is expected to cultivate forty seedlings.
Hon Sabo Laabiir also noted that the programme has also provided employment for people in the district. He disclosed that “a total of 156 employees are benefiting as far as this work is concerned. Out of this, 123 are females and 33 are males.”
The DCE called on traditional authorities to make available farmlands for the cultivation of the seedlings. He also urged the youth to take farming very serious as agriculture “is the only way to grow”.