Farmers want appropriate data on weather to enhance food production

Farmers working under the Northern Ghana Food Security Resilience Project (NGFSRP) have appealed to authorities of the Meteorological Service to provide them with appropriate data on weather conditions to enable them to take control of their agricultural activities.

“An appropriate weather forecast in the local languages on radio stations on regular basis would help farmers to know areas to cultivate their crops and the type of crops to cultivate”, the farmers explained.

The appeal was made at a day’s annual stakeholders’ review meeting of NGFSRP in Wa on Thursday, attended by peasant farmers, district directors of agriculture, agro-chemical dealers, seed producers, farm inputs suppliers, and traditional authorities.

They called on the Meteorological Service make weather data available to farmers’ organisations to help them to educate their members to change their farming habits and practices under erratic weather conditions as well as avoid some other disasters.

The farmers appealed to agricultural scientists and other relevant organisations to train farmers on composite manure production rather than continued reliance on chemical fertilizers whose cost was high and sometime not available at the time many farmers needed it for their crops.

“We think that composite manure would serve our purpose because it would be  less destructive to our farm lands, cheaper and available at all times and more sustainable for crops production. This is one of the surest ways food security could be achieved among resource poor peasant farmers in the north”, the farmers pointed out.

The farmers also suggested the development of local plant preparations as chemicals to fight pests rather than the use of chemicals whose misapplication and control were harmful to farmers and consumers.

The farmers said agricultural extension service delivery in its current form was not the best in the country and called for the involvement of development partners to strengthen the service to cover more farmers.

Under the NGFSRP, 10,000 farmers from resource poor and vulnerable small-scale farmer households from seven districts in the Upper West and Northern Regions were benefiting from the projects to help reduce food insecurity and increase their coping strategies against soaring food prices.

The beneficiary districts are: Wa Municipal, Wa East and Nadowli in the Upper West Region and Central Gonja, West Gonja, Sawla/Tuna/Kalba and Bole in the Northern Region.

Dr. William Yaw Kpakpo, ADRA-Ghana Country Director said European Commission funded the project with 1.03 million Euros and it would last for only 20 months of which 14 months had already been spent.

He said European Union provided 90 per cent and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA-UK) also provided 10 per cent of the fund which was being implemented by ADRA-Ghana in partnership with ADRA-UK.

He said increases in agricultural production, reduction in post harvest losses and targeted farmers groups as well as demonstrates improved organisational, business management and life skills were expected results of the project.

The project results would be achieved through capacity building of farmers, agricultural inputs support and market linkages, Dr. Kpakpo said.

Mr. Isaac Kankan-Boadu, Project Manager of NGFSRP, said in January 2010, 73.2 tons of improved seeds of maize, groundnuts and soyabean and 1,092.5 tons of fertilizers were distributed to farmers while 7,887 acres of land were also ploughed in more than 179 communities across the beneficiary districts.

He said more than 8,500 farmers were trained in group formation, development and dynamics, crop value chain, farming as a business, and improved crop production practices.

Some 7,066 farmers were also trained in harvesting and post-harvest handling technologies, while arrangement had been made to link farmers to input dealers, buyers and financial institutions to ensure sustainability of project benefits.

Farmers’ yields increased by 300-400 per cent and the farmers were happy for the yields they produced last year.

Mr. Kankan-Boadu said the Project had also catered for the vulnerable people and that about 40 per cent of women, including widows and the blind participated.

He said 950.1 tons had been collected from farmers as Pay-back and for the establishment of a revolving fund in the communities.

Source: GNA

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