The government has been urged to urgently address gaps pertaining to the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) policy to make Ghana self-sufficient and a major exporter of food products in the sub-region.
A latest study conducted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) with funding from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) into the PFJs, indicates that though the programme was widely praised by farmers, challenges relating to subsidies on farm inputs, market output and extension services remained a major setback.
“There is a high willingness and urge on the part of the farmers to feed the nation, but issues such as the pricing, bad weather, post-harvest losses and general cost of production with little government support are discouraging their resolve to continue their agenda to produce for feeding and production,” the report said.
In a statement released in Accra yesterday to disseminate the findings, ISSER pointed out that as compared to previous interventions of inputs distribution, the PFJs made inputs more available to farmers based on their purchasing power however, majority of farmers had little understanding of the programme.
“A majority of the farmers did not know about the subsidy component and improved seeds that were being offered, hence most of them still operate at the subsistence level,” according to the report.
Price fluctuation and exploitation of farmers by middle men and women, the report noted, were “two biggest problems” affecting farmers under the programme.
To this end, the report, among others, recommended that more extension officers are recruited to augment efforts of current officers in better explaining the programme and its objectives to farmers as well as improve productivity.
“Government should establish a Maize Buying Company under the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) just like that of the Produce Buying Company (PBC) under the COCOBOD to give farmers ready market and assure price certainty, which will make the farmers increase the amount of acreage cultivated,” the report advised.
Moreover, the Institute urged that each of the 216 districts across the country be provided with basic mechanisation equipment like maize shellers and combined harvesters at competitive rates to be easily assessable to ease the work of farmers.
“There must be a replication of the co-operative system currently under the auspices of the COCOBOD, starting with maize (the most cultivated) farmers.
“This will help make them have a strong bargaining power in the activities of the district with policies concerning them and avoid diversion of inputs meant for them,” it said.
The PFJ programme, ISSER suggested, must assume a community-based approach where government through the District Assemblies ensure that each community cultivates a farm produce that is known to do well as a community project which would be “owned and worked on by the community.”
“The NAFCO should be tasked to off-take the produce and the funds accrued out of it made to be used for agricultural mechanisation and community development such as building of community warehouses,” it said.
Source: The Ghanaian Times
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