Business News of 2014-08-18

Farmers, authorities discuss ways to improve food production

Representatives of smallholder farmers’ groups have met with officials from the regional and district departments of agriculture in the Northern Region to discuss ways to enhance the capacity of peasant farmers to improve food production.

Key issues discussed included fertilizers arriving when the farming season was over, high cost of agricultural inputs with little or no subsidies in some cases, unavailable tractor services, and the weaknesses in the regime of seed distribution.

The farmers’ groups, which comprise the aged, women and the disabled, were drawn from hard-to-reach communities including Bamvim and Datoyili in Tamale Rural, Songnayili in the Sagnarigu District, and Langbinsi and Gambaga in the East Mamprusi District.

The forum was organised in Tamale on Saturday by Diamond FM, a Tamale-based radio station, under its advocacy project dubbed: “Tackling Bottlenecks to the Development of Rural Agriculture in the Northern Region: Improving Farmers’ Access to Agricultural Input Supplies.”

The project, which is sponsored by STAR-Ghana, a multi-donor pooled funding agency, seeks to highlight the concerns of smallholder farmers and bring such concerns to the table of the authorities to address.

It is also to give farmers a voice using various radio programmes to address issues such as access to quality education by farmers’ children, youth unemployment, gender and human rights to improve their livelihoods.

Madam Rabi Adam, a farmer from the Bamvim Community, demanded from the Government the timely implementation of the fertilizer subsidy programme as this year's farming season was almost over but most farmers could not get fertilizers for their farms.

She said the situation would affect crop yields, which would have an impact not only on the livelihoods of the affected farmers but also the country’s food security situation.

She called on Government to address issues of improved access to tractor services, agricultural-inputs and land acquisition by women to improve agriculture production.

Mr Mohammed Adam Nashiru, President of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, decried the non-commencement of the fertilizer subsidy programme saying this was a drawback to efforts at improving food production in the country.

Mr William Boakye-Acheampong, Northern Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture, said Government was working to procure more tractors from Brazil to aid ploughing and gave the assurance that the tractors would arrive by the end of the year.

He urged farmers to pool resources to enable them to acquire the tractors because they would not be given out on credit.

Mr Iddrisu Abdul Rashid, General Manager of Diamond FM, said: “We want to see fairness where gender barriers are broken, access to services such as tractor, extension and training as well as credit and the social interventions such as Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty amongst others for these groups.”

He said the project sought to ensure fairness in the distribution of agricultural inputs by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture with a fair proportion of such services targeting the vulnerable population who might not be necessarily engaged in commercial agriculture.

Source: GNA
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