Concerned stakeholders in the agric sector fear that Ghana’s extension services may sooner than later phase out if sustainable measures are not put in place to employ more personnel.
They attributed this prediction to the fact that many veteran extension officers are either retiring or dying without being replaced.
Farmers in Ghana have severally complained about the lack of extension officers in their respective farming communities. Where the officers are found, their operations cover a few number of farmers leaving a large farmers unattended to.
Speaking on Rite FM’s Morning Ride with Captain Adabugar on Monday during a discussion on the role of Extension Officers in the Agric Value Chain, Eastern regional Director of the Extension Services noted that government is making no attempts to recruit graduates from the Agric Colleges to replace existing staff, despite persistent requests from the department.
Papa Allotey said the situation is making it very difficult for the department to effectively and efficiently carry out its mandatory duties as it is handicapped in reaching out to all of its operational areas.
The aging population of the few extension officers available, Papa Allotey added is a serious concern as government is failing to employ new and younger officers to close the deficit.
He said three extension officers in charge of about sixteen operational areas in the Eastern region for instance is woefully inadequate, a situation he regretted adversely affected extension services in the region.
“Every district has about sixteen (16) operational areas including the Eastern Region which means that ideally, sixteen agents are required for these services. Some districts have only five extension officers, others have only four. There are only three officers in the eastern region and though I can’t point to a definite figure for each district, ideally, sixteen per district should be enough to extend extension services to all the operational areas effectively and efficiently,” the Extension director opined.
He expressed dissatisfaction in the failure of government to recruit more officers to replace the aging extension personnel in the country.
“We are not recruiting and so do not have more officers to replace the retiring ones,” he regretted.
It is estimated that there are about 5,000 extension officers who have graduated from the five Colleges of Agriculture but are unemployed because of pressure on the public sector payroll.
A Minister of State at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr Nurah Gyiele has previously admitted the weaknesses in Agric extension services.
He attributed the situation to low number 0f extension officers, and promised the situation will change.
According to him, the government has recruited 1,200 youth under the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) to shoot up the number of Agric extension agents.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) with support from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is set to introduce a new extension services framework to guide the activities of agriculture extension officers in the country.
Players in the agriculture sector believe the ineffective and lack of extension officers in Ghana have affected farming activities in the country, hence the poor performance of the agricultural sector in Ghana.
In order to formulate one common framework or standard for extension personnel in the country, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is reviewing the existing extension framework and standards.
Source: Prince Paul Amuzufirstname.lastname@example.org