Government delivers 110 harvesters to Northern Region

The machines, which come in addition to 18 larger combined harvesters distributed last year, are expected to reach the farmers early enough for the harvest season next month.

The Northern Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr Joseph Faalong, told the Daily Graphic during a visit by journalists from six African countries to Tamale that although the region would need more such harvesters, the latest addition would help the farmers a great deal to harvest their crops before they experienced any worse form of flooding.

Rice production in the region is expected to go up this year, following various interventions by the government and development partners under the Breadbasket project, an agricultural productivity programme for the northern part of the country.

The interventions include the Rice Sector Support Project (RSSP) jointly funded by the government and the Agance Francaise de Development (AFD) and the Agricultural Value Chain Mentorship Project funded jointly by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), which are expected to scale up rice, and general food production in the three northern regions.

The journalists, who were drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Mali and Mozambique, accompanied an AGRA team that toured some project sites in the Northern Region.

Mr Fallong thanked the government for the prompt provision of the harvesters, but said the terrain of the area, which often gets waterlogged, required amphibious harvesters with traction devices.

He was upbeat about increased agricultural productivity in the region, mainly due to the interventions, which included teaching the small scale farmers improved agronomic practices, provision of subsidised fertilizers and improved seeds for rice, soybean and maize.

Last year, the government subsided 100,000 tonnes of fertilisers to farmers, out of which the Northern Region consumed 39 per cent. This year, 150,000 tonnes would be subsidised to benefit more farmers who, agricultural experts in the north said, were gradually waking up to its importance in increasing yields.

With the subsidies, the farmers purchase the fertilisers for GH¢30 instead of the non-subsidised price of GH¢45.

About 70 per cent of the total land mass of the Northern Region, measuring about 4.9 million hectares, is arable but only about 800,000 hectares (representing 16 per cent) is under cultivation, in spite of the availability of water resources in the area. About 10 per cent of the Volta Lake lies within the region to the benefit of some 210 communities.

Source: Daily Graphic

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