Business News of 2014-07-11

Eastern Region farmers benefit from Plantwise programme

More than 200 farmers in the Eastern Region have benefited from a Plantwise programme, which aims at improving food security and the lives of smallholder farmers in the country.

The project is also to help strengthen national plant health systems, and enable all relevant stakeholders to provide farmers with the knowledge they need, to reduce post-harvest losses, and increase productivity.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, Mr Charles Bluie, the Regional Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Officer and also the Coordinator for the Plant wise project said, it was initiated by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI,) and is being collaborated by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

He said the project began in Ghana in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions as a pilot programme in 2012, and extended to Eastern and Northern Regions in 2013, and this year it has been extended to the Volta Region.

Mr Silbaway Osmanu, Deputy Coordinator for Plant Wise, added that this project provides opportunity for the organization of plant clinics at vantage points in the community to deal with pest and disease control.

He explained that the plant clinics are situated at markets on market days, since that is the time farmers can bring specimens of their affected plants or leaves for diagnosis.

He said the programme aimed at tackling pests and insects control, through Good Agronomic Practices (GAP), and avoid application of pesticides and insecticides that tend to have effect on the crops if not applied well or in excess.

Mr Silbaway said plant doctors who are involved in the programme are trained personnel who identify and prescribe solutions to the farmers and their affected plants for effective results.

He said some of the common diseases that they have come across since the inception of the programme in the region are bacteria, mosaic and fungus.

He said the challenge the programme is facing is low publicity for many farmers in the communities to know about the project and take advantage of it.

He appealed for the project to be mainstreamed into MOFA programmes for adoption for every district and region in the country to use the plant clinic as a supplement to the extension services.

Source: GNA
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