Business News Thu, 13 Jul 2017
A total of 4,092 farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region have, so far, been engaged in the cultivation of maize and rice under government's flagship initiative "Planting for Food and Jobs" Programme.The Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Cyril Quist, told the B&FT that the number of beneficiary farmers is expected to "multiply" to over 20,000 in the minor farming season, by the middle of July.
Farmers in the region cultivate more maize and vegetable crops during the minor season as compared to the major season, where they mostly concentrate on crops like cassava and yam.
The Planting for Food and Jobs initiative is expected to increase the production of maize by 30 percent, rice by 49 percent, soyabean by 25 % and sorghum by 28 percent. Government plans to leverage the campaign to create about 750,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Dr. Cyril Quist told the B&FT that the programme has taken off well in the region, in the sense that as at the launch of the programme, most farmers in the region had already planted the crops but because of the juicy nature of the initiative, many of them enthusiastically accessed inputs under the programme to either expand or initiate new farms.
"Of the 4,092 farmers who have so far subscribed to the programme, 3,554 are males while 538 are females," Dr Quist said.
"The good thing is that most of the farmers have accepted the hybrid maize seed with secured yield performance as compared to open-pollinated varieties. The average maize yield in the region is about 1.9 metric tonnes per hectare but the hybrid can give the farmers around 2.3 mt per hectare. We even expect some farmers will get between 2.5-3mt with this intervention," he said.
"The government is keen on promoting agriculture as a business and yields level is very critical in this context. So, if farmers are going to get higher yields, then they would be active players in the values chain."
Touching on plans for storage in anticipation of massive production levels, the Regional MoFA Director revealed that the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) has assessed the existing warehouses (both private and public) in Brong Ahafo and it is expected to rehabilitate those that are not in good condition.
"The Ghana Grain Council also has warehouses all over and I believe these facilities can accommodate the expected productivity in the time being," he added.