By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Air Force Base, Accra
In line with Government’s policies – “GREEN GHANA PROJECT” and Planting For Food and Jobs (PFFJ), the Armed Forces of Ghana (GAF), have relaunched an agricultural program – OPERATION DEMETER, to be functional at all Formations and Garrisons of GAF.
The reactivated program, was rebirthed on Thursday, July 1, 2021, at the Air Force Base, Accra to support the Ghanaian population plant trees, nurture them to maturity and subsequently contribute to the preservation of the environment.
Speaking as the Guest-of-Honour at the relaunch ceremony, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) – Vice Admiral (V/Adm) Seth Amoama, said “OP DEMETER” is not new to GAF, as it was first launched in the Armed Forces, and the country as a whole, in the 1970s, as part of the “OP FEED YOURSELF” Programme.
Admiral Amoama said that “OP DEMETER” is aimed, not only at planting trees, but also for Units to engage in various farming activities, which will be beneficial to troops and their families, and to also train and prepare interested personnel, who may wish to venture into agriculture, when they ‘ground arms’.
The CDS intimated that the recent degradation of the environment, due to the activities of illegal mining (Galamsey), illegal lumbering and bush burning, calls for concerted efforts by the military and other stakeholders, to take reclamation of the degraded environment seriously, after which reclaimed lands could be converted into farming areas, of which “OP DEMETER” could benefit by planting for food.
The CDS, thus, tasked all units of GAF, to liaise with the appropriate local authorities in their respective Areas of Responsibilities (AORs), to adopt or secure degraded lands or readily available fallow arable lands, for “OP DEMETER” activities.
Admiral Amoama stated that, apart from being a source of internally generated funds, troops would acquire professional skills in farming techniques, which could be beneficial to them on retirement, via OP DEMETER.
“I have directed that “OP DEMETER” be conducted in a competitive spirit and best efforts recognized and awarded annually, a permanent Committee to coordinate and oversee the implementation and sustainability of the programme has been constituted”, the CDS stated.
The Armed Forces program, is being supported by agricultural firms, such as DEMETER Ghana Ltd, CROP DOCTOR Ltd and AGROYARD, in the areas of technical expertise, as they donated a modern agricultural equipment – Roller Manual Seeder and Fertilizer Planter – to support the program.
“DEMETER” is a Greek word “Dimitrios” which refers to Mother Earth and in Greek mythology the Goddess of corn, grain and harvest or agriculture in general.
The Base Commander, Air Force Base, Accra – Air Commodore Joshua Larkai-Mensah, in a welcome address, commended the Commanding Officers (COs) of the Defence Mechanical Transport Battalion, 153 Armoured Regiment, Base Supply Depot, 48 and 49 Engineer Regiments, for their logistical support, during the period of preparation.
Dignitaries present at the sod-cutting event included the Chief of the Army Staff – Major General (Maj Gen) Thomas Oppong-Peprah, the Chief of Naval Staff – Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, the Chief of Staff at the General Headquarters – Maj Gen Peter Nicholas Andoh, the Commandants at the Military Academy Training Schools and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center – Maj Gen Charles Awity and Maj Gen Francis Ofori.