They stated that with such support from the government, the Extension officers would be able to reach out to all farmers and assist them with modern methods of farming and proper application of agro-chemicals for increased production.
The stakeholders’ forum which was on proper agricultural extension delivery attracted more than 20 farmers from Derma, Techimantia, Wabasha, Akomadan, Tuobodom, Abesim, Kotokrom, Yawhima, and Antwikrom.
Some civil society organisations and agricultural extension officers in the Sunyani Municipality also attended the forum organised by Ghana Trade and Livelihoods Coalition (GTLC), an NGO.
According to the farmers, one agric extension officer had to reach out to more than 600 farmers in a community but because they lacked some basic logistics such as means of transport, the officers found it very difficult to reach out to all the communities.
The farmers said despite all these challenges, the Extension officers tried as much as they could to reach the farmers and support them in their farming activities.
Mr. Paul Kwabena Mensah, secretary of the Federation of Tomato Growers Association of Ghana, stated that with some technical support from the extension officers, members had seen tremendous increase in productivity.
He lauded the cordial relationship between some of the Extension officers and the farmers and entreated the former to continue to render selfless services to the farmers for increased food production.
Mr. Mensah said though the extension officers were doing their best to help the farmers in so many areas, it would be in the interest of tomato farmers if the officers supported them in research to obtain improved tomato seeds.
Mr. Adusei Mensah, 2010 national best tomato farmer, stated that because vegetable farmers had no storage facilities, the chunk of their crops got rotten during a bumper harvest.
He explained that there was poor market demand for tomatoes produced from local varieties indicating “the Ghanaian weather is also not favourable for the cultivation of the exotic tomato seeds”.
Mr. Mensah said as a result of these, tomato farmers continued to operate under losses and appealed to the Crop Research Institute to come out with certified seeds for production.
Mr. John Ayisi, Regional Extension Officer, mentioned inadequate staff, lack of logistics and regular staff training as some of the challenges that faced his outfit.
He said despite all these problems, the few agric extension officers were ever ready to assist farmers who would continue to adhere to technical advice for increased food production.
Mr. Ayisi stated that abuse and misuse of agro-chemicals were the contributory factors to food poisoning and entreated the farmers to contact the Extension officers on the proper application of such chemicals on their crops.
Earlier in a welcoming address, Mr. Peter Subaab, Regional Focal Person of the GTLC, said the forum was an annual event organised to get the farmers abreast of modern trends of farming.
He said aside the fora, the NGO also held periodic workshops to sensitize the farmers on international trade policies.
Mr. Subaab advised the farmers to regard farming as business and stick to advice from the Extension officers to enable them to increase their yield.