About four thousand metric tonnes of rice ready for harvesting at the Tono Irrigation site at Navrongo in the Upper East Region is likely to go waste as a result of the lack of combine harvester machines.
In all, 2000 farmers in the area who used to do tomato farming in the dry season, diversified their activity to rice cultivation this year, due to lack of market for the tomatoes they used to produce.
All together they cultivated about 1,000 hectares of rice and have got a good yield of about 4,000 metric tonnes which is ripe and ready for harvesting but there are no combined harvesters to do the work.
The smallholder farmers at the scheme site used to cultivate small plots which they harvested manually, but went in for a larger acreage, as they were convinced the rice harvest would be good this year and given the assurance that they would get machines to harvest the crop if they produced on a larger scale.
Moreover, as the rains have now set in, there is the likelihood that the ripe rice on the farms will get destroyed.
The desperate farmers besieged the residence of the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Navrongo Central Constituency, Mr Mark Woyongo, to plead with him to help them get the machines to harvest their produce.
The MP promptly conveyed the farmers’ request to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Limuna Muniru, but was told the Ministry did not have any combine harvester machines at the moment.
The MP suggested to the Ministry to contact the Afefe Irrigation Project and other private sectors for the machines.
The sector Minister assured the MP that MOFA would explore all possible means to get combine harvesters to support the farmers.
Speaking to the Media, the MP said commercial rice farming was in line with the government’s policy to promote local rice production, and assured the farmers that everything possible would be done to help them out of their current plight.
He said as a vast majority of farmers were drifting from tomato cultivation to rice farming, there was the urgent need for MOFA to provide combine harvesters at all the irrigation scheme sites in the Region to avert such situations in the future.
The Project Manager of the Tono Irrigation Project, Mr Sebastian Berjena, said the farmers had invested a lot of money on their farms and would lose massively if the government did not come to their aid.
“The farmers have a bumper harvest this year due to the good agronomic practices they adopted, and stand to make good profit since there is a ready market and good price for the produce”, he said.