Northern Region farmers complain of high cost of farming

Farmers in the three Northern Regions on Friday said the cost of agriculture production in the area was too high and almost intolerable.

According to them, the high interest rate on borrowing from banks, poor state of roads and expensive agricultural inputs may affect the country’s food production and called on the Government to intervene.

These concerns were trumpeted at a day’s forum on pre-harvest, networking and marketing organized by the National Commission on
Small Arms and Light Weapons for Chiefs in Tamale.

The forum jointly organized by the International Centre for Soil Fertility (IFDC), Ghana Grains Council and Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) sought to forge a closer relationship with stakeholders in the maize, rice and soya bean value chain.

It also served as a platform for the stakeholders to strategise and come out with workable solutions to complement government objective of bridging the developmental gap between Northern and Southern Ghana.

Mr George Alokodongo, the 1996 National Best Farmer, said the late supply of fertilizer by government and the erratic rainfall pattern experienced this year in the Northern region would reduce the production of grains including maize and rice.

He noted that prices of some important farm inputs such as triple super phosphate fertilizer which is very important in the cultivation of cereals was sold at GH¢70.00.

Mr Alokodongo said many farmers were still resorting to the use of the traditional method of farming and relies on rain fed agriculture.

Giving instances to support his argument he said, “Most rice farmers are in a dilemma because the rains stopped early this year which is not normal. Many of them still have their rice in the weeds”.

He said the situation would not encourage most farmers to cultivate rice in the next farming season.

Mr Tom Gambrah, Chairman of the Ghana Grains Council said statistics from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture showed that the country was self sufficient in the production of maize in the past four years; “From 2007 to 2010 the production increased from 1,220, 1475,1681 and 1872 metric tonnes “.

He said soya bean production had seen significant growth from 75, 77, 123 in the year 2008 2009 and 2010.

Dr Kofi Debrah, IFDC Country Representative, called on farmers to patronize the new mFarm initiative, an information exchange tool, a decision support tool and a planning, production and marketing tool.

He explained that the mFarm platform was an information-sharing application that helps farmers, agro dealers, aggregators and the transport sector to get to know at every point in time, which group of farmers were cultivating what kind of crop, at which location area, the quantity to enable aggregators to  instruct the trucks to transport the farm produce after harvest.

“For instance, with the use of a mobile phone, a farmer can purchase agro farm inputs and chemicals for the farm, in the same vein, an aggregator will be able to know that he or she can buy maize or soybean from a farmer of choice at location because the platform allows the aggregator to put farmers who cultivate various crops into specific groups.

“After the aggregator having access to this information, he or she then links up a transport company to convey the goods from the farm to the end buyer,” he said.

Source: GNA

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