Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) members from all the ten regions of Ghana attending a two-day roundtable on farmers’ access to quality inputs, identified investing in quality inputs as key to increasing crop yields.
The farmers across the ten regions of Ghana lauded the government flagship programme “Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ)”, describing it as a catalyst for boosting agricultural performance.
The stakeholders at the forum were impressed with the PJF but observed some fundamental challenges that can avert the success of the programme if not addressed in good time.
They contend that access to quality inputs, especially seeds by smallholder farmers is a fundamental challenge to farmers and called the government to increase investment in the seed value chain to ensure easy access and utilization of quality seeds.
The investment could be in the form of investing in seed growers, provision of storage facilities and creation of conducive environment for private sector participation in the seed value chain activities.
On the issue of the Fall Army Worm infestation which has caused a lot of damage in 2017, they want adequate measures such as emergency funds and investing in research to prevent occurrence in the subsequent years.
At the opening session of the conference in Tamale last week, the Regional Director of Agriculture at the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), Mr. William Boakye-Acheampong said, 26,981 hectares of farms in the Northern region were infested of which 1,143 hectares were totally damaged. He encouraged the farmers to report any new case to the Agriculture offices in the various districts for assistance.
“Let’s take Agric as business. We are ready to help our farmers. I have tasked the Agriculture office in the region and districts to submit names of all affected farmers so that we can help,” he said.
The conference, which is funded by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is targeted at increasing farmers’ access to quality inputs for sustainable enterprise.
The two-day conference brought together key players in the agriculture input value chain ranging from: Representatives from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, agrochemical dealers, fertilizer importers and distributors, seed growers, farmer leaders from all the ten regions of Ghana and the mediato access the success and challenges of the PFJ and the 2017 fertilizer subsidy programme to recommend to government ways to help improve performance.
The President of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Mr. Abdul Rahman Mohammed, said the way forward to achieving success in the seed value chain in Ghana was for national collaborations to be strengthened.
“Recording higher yields and increasing wealth is key to attracting the youth into the Agricultural sector, but this can only happen when there are quality seedsavailable for farmers,” he said.
According to him PFAG will continue to support the agenda to transform the agriculture sectorand will keep its doors widely opened to work with government towards achieving food and nutritional security in fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Malabo Declaration.
Speaking on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Food and Agriculture (DrOwusuAfriyie-Akoto),the Deputy Minister in charge of Crops, Dr Sagri Bambangi, said government is committed to supporting small holder farmers in the country, which reflected in increased budget allocation to the agricultural sector in 2017.
He stated that the president is passionate about agricultural development and will continue to support policies that will improve the activities of peasant farmers in the country.
He further challenged PFAG to take advantage of numerous interventions by government to improve their activities, improve incomes and create jobs for themselves and the youth.