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300-acre rice farms destroyed following collapse of Afram River embankment

Thu, 21 Oct 2021 Source: ghanaiantimes.com.gh

Three hundred acres of rice farms at Aframso in the Ejura Municipality of Ashanti Region have been destroyed following the collapse of the embankment on the Afram river constructed to irrigate the farmlands.

A large part of the embankment burst, and has been washed away as a result of the recent heavy rains that hit some parts of the country, which saw the river overflowing its banks.

The Aframso River Irrigation project was built during the administration of former President John Dramani Mahama to serve rice farmers to increase production.

About 250 rice farmers have been affected following the development as the entire farmlands were submerged by the water rendering harvesting useless.

They could harvest three times a year but this year, they were unable to harvest, and according to them, have lost hundreds of Ghana Cedis of investments.

The farmers, led by their spokesman, Malik Karim, also the Unit Committee Chairman of Aframso, said several appeals have been made to the authorities including the Member of Parliament who has visited the place, but have relegated the farmers to the background since the collapse of the embankment somewhere around August.

He said the investment they made from loans had gone down the drain and until the ‘dam’ was renovated their livelihood was at stake and appealed to the government to come to their aid in the shortest possible time.

“Rice farming is our livelihood, we have no other business doing, we are, therefore, appealing to the government to fix the dam for us,” Mr. Karim implored, adding that they were bent on working hard to produce more rice towards food security in the country.

These came up during a visit of seed scientists of the Crop Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR-CRI) to a rice demonstration farm at Ntoman, in Aframso.

CSIR-CRI has established about four acres of four varieties of rice they had developed(Amankwatia, Agra, CRI Dartey and CRI Enapa) for the farmers to learn to produce rice using proper agricultural practices that would ensure high yields.

Starting in 2020, the project, under the sponsorship of the Korea-Africa Food and Agricultural Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI), aimed at enhancing the rice seed system by ensuring high productivity, food security and livelihood improvement.

But, it was quite interesting that though the demonstration farm was within the enclave, the rice varieties were able to withstand the overflow of the water.

Totaling about 50, the farmers commended the CSIR-CRI for the project that has given them more insights into rice production by using the right technology and quality seeds.

During a tour of the farm, the farmers observed that all the four varieties were good but some have comparative advantages over others such as CRI Enapa which was tolerant to the dangerous rice yellow mottle virus.

They also appreciated CRI Dartey, Amankwatia, saying they had high yields and were lodging resistant, that is ability to survive during overflow of water.

According to the farmers Enapa, Amankwatia and Dartey were also very easy to thresh and quality in cooking.

The Project Coordinator, Isaac Osei Tutu, seed scientists with the CSIR-CRI, who led the team, said at the end of the project the entire demonstration farm would be given to the farmers for free to enhance their livelihoods.

He was satisfied with the extent to which the farmers have taken up the technology to improve their production and livelihood enhancement.

The Project Coordinator told them that it was worrying the ascendancy of rice importation into the country and the only way to decrease that was the access to quality or improved seeds for high yields.

Mrs.Phyllis Aculey, a seed scientist with the CSIR-CRI and project team member, explained to the farmers the importance of sticking to the proper agricultural practices to boost production by using the improved varieties.

She said the project would continue to sensitize the farmers about the importance of using and adopting quality seeds and how to plant them to ensure high yields.

Mrs Aculey urged them to embrace the improved seeds as they are drought and disease resistant and continue to adopt the right method to increase.

Abdulai Muntari, Stephen Asante, rice farmers appealed to their colleagues to do all possible to acquire the improved varieties introduced to them to better their lives

Source: ghanaiantimes.com.gh
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