By Prince Paul Amuzu:
The president of the Concerned Farmers Association of Ghana, Oboadee Opambour Bonsu has described the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme as a very laudable idea which has left Ghanaian farmers elated.
This he adds is coupled with the fifty percent reduction in the fertilizer subsidies, especially with fertilizer’s enviable role as a major requirement in farming.
Nana Opambuor articulated these when he appeared as guest on Rite FM’s Saturday Agric forum hosted by Krobea Asante. According to him, though the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ is a laudable initiative, the policy stands the risk of failure if the necessary measures are not put in place to articulate the initiative efficiently and effectively.
Though he described the initiative as a welcome venture, he nevertheless cautioned that the programme risks failure if the necessary support is not put it place and the effect is that the objectives of the policy could be affected.
He said fertilizers should have been ready by now for the use of farmers this farming season after the announcement of the reduction in fertilizer prices by the agric minister, especially as most farmers have started preparation their lands and others have already started planting.
According to him, in farming one of the major costs involved is fertilizer application but unfortunately, most farmers can’t even apply the required quantities because they cannot afford the cost of the fertilizer.
‘Selected foodstuff to champion the programme such as maize production which is expected to increase by thirty percent, needs the timely application of NPK fertilizer when planted but here is the case that the fertilizer is still not ready for these farmers who have already started planting.
‘The fertilizer should be ready for maize cultivation now as farmers started planting about two weeks of planting. This is even more important especially since we have a serious irrigation problem here and which is why farmers take advantage of the raining season. The delay in the fertilizer release is definitely going to affect the thirty percent projection negatively which is a fact,’ Nana Oboadee emphasized.
According to him, the improved seeds which are going to be imported for the articulation of the programme is more costly than the local types which is going to be another challenge for farmers in terms of affordability. Another pinching issue about the programme is the matter of the importation of the improved seeds which is more expensive than the local varieties, posing another headache for farmers because most of them cannot pay the prices involved,’ he noted.
Another worrying situation that is affecting the agriculture sector is the lack of acknowledgment of extension officers by government and its officials. ‘Extension officers are not recognized by government and its officials on any platform. You hear them mentioning other professionals such as teachers, nurses, police but they don’t recognize extension officers who serve as a bridge between the government and the farmers. They don’t even provide them with the necessary equipment to do their job let alone promote them as done in other professions in order to raise their morals,’ he added.