The Northern Region saw high grain production in the 2016 farming season, with farmers expressing gratitude to government and other donor agencies for their support.
A total of 142,027 metric tonnes (MT) of rice was produced in the region from the 78,188 hectares of land cultivated by rice farmers in 2016, according to data sourced from the Statistics, Research and Information Directorate (SRID), of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) titled “Northern Regional Production Data for rice production 2016”.
Also, about 227,541 metric tonnes of maize, 117,524 metric tonnes of sorghum and 113,631 metric tonnes of soya bean were produced in the region.
While an average yield of the grains of maize, rice, sorghum and soya bean were 1.61, 1.84, 1.69 and 1.68 metric tonnes per hector respectfully.
This was due to the technical support provided to the rice farmers and also linking them to the market to sell their produce helped the farmers generate some revenue to continue with their rice farming this year.
Information gathered also indicated that smallholder farmers in the three regions of the North have for the past years encountering with funds to produce the quality and needed products to meet the demand of the market while market and transportation continue to hinder their activities thereby discouraging most youths from venturing into the sector.
The Northern Regional Director of the MOFA, Mr. William Boakye-Acheampong who disclosed this to the B&FT noted that the farmers with the support of other donor agencies and trainings were able to produce enough to feed their families and the nation.
He also said, efforts were being made by the government in collaboration with the private sector and the country’s development partners to address the concern of all farmers, including those who are into rice production to increase their yields.
According to him, the region is poised of agricultural potentials that with support, the farmers could produce to increase food security in the country and also the surplus exported to generate revenue to expand the sector to make it more attractive to the youths to venture.
He added that inadequate support for the sector by the government continues to be a challenge to the local farmers to meet the demands of the market.
He stressed that the intervention of the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) to provide some elected farmers with the certified seeds and other farm inputs with support from the United Nations International Development Agency (USAID) is expected to increase the yields of the farmers.
He therefore appealed to the farmers to adapt to the modern technology and also ensure purchasing the fertilizer and other seeds from certified agencies to prevent post harvest lose.
Meanwhile some farmers in an interview said lack of rice milling plant, tractors, combine harvesters, improved rice seeds for cropping, small scale irrigation schemes, fertilizers and ready market for produce were some of the challenges confronting them.
They said the challenges therefore hamper their activities thereby making it difficult to produce to meet the demand of the market.
Mahama Wahab, a farmer from Kpalsogu in the Tolon District said he cultivates rice at Naabogo in the Savelugu-Nanton Municipality in the Northern Region, said last year he was able to produce about 100 bags of rice but could not get ready market for his produce as most Ghanaians preferred the imported rice to that of the local ones.
He alleged that some rice farmers in certain parts of the region have been supported with the preferred rice seed varieties to plant but that support was still inadequate as they have no access to combine harvesters to harvest their produce and also a milling plant to process their rice to meet the demand of the market.
Mr. Iddi Alhassan, a rice farmer at Kolinga, a community in the Sagnarigu District said lack of tractor services to plough his farm for cropping was a major challenge and called on the government to make tractors available to farmers each major cropping season to plough their farms to boost their production.
He added that high cost of farming inputs, such as fertilizers, quality improved seeds and other agro chemicals were also a challenge and appealed to the government to subsidize the cost of these items to enable farmers purchased them for use to increase productivity.
Mr. Alhassan stated that he has to use people to harvest his rice since he has no access to combine harvesters and also has to struggle to sell his produce after each cropping season and called for more governmental support to the rice sector to enable rice farmers in the region to reap the benefit from their toil.
He also appealed for an irrigation scheme and ware house to store the produce to ensure effective farming activities.
Mr Tampuri Alhasan, Excel Bit Ltd, an aggregator of rice in an interview with the B&FT said enhancing the capacity would help improve on the agricultural production to meet the demand of the market.
He stressed the need to develop the market for the produce which would encourage more youths to venture the field.
According to him, providing grading services, investments in produce aggregation will enable the smallholder farmers to obtain higher prices for higher grades of produce. He said for the past years, there has not been a cordial relationship with the smallholder farmers and the aggregation thereby leading to low production.