Kintampo Yam Farmers Association (KYFA) has appealed to government for the extension of technical support by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Mr Emmanuel Banyo Okrah, Secretary of the association, made the appeal in a paper presented at a day’s media soiree organised by the Brong-Ahafo Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund for sector associations in Sunyani.
It was on the theme: “Improving the Policy Environment of Business” to solicit the media’s support in the campaign to bring to the attention of government and policy makers challenges and problems confronting small scale industries in the Region.
Mr Okrah expressed worry that most Ghanaian farmers continued the traditional methods of cultivating yam in mounds to produce big tubers that did not meet the international yam export specifications in terms of size.
He explained that this was due to the lack of technical knowledge in the new special horticultural ‘best practice’ for cultivating the exportable Pona by yam producers in the country”.
“The technology for producing exportable yams is available with research institutions but not accessible to over 95 per cent of farmers,” Mr Okrah said.
The Secretary said Ghana is a leading yam exporter, having exported 20,841 metric tonnes of yams in 2008 but with increasing global demand for yams coming from Europe, the United States of America and neighbouring African countries, there was potential for higher production and export volumes.
Mr Okrah expressed regret that production technology gaps, inadequate access and high cost of seed yam had limited the export capacity of Ghanaian yam producers, despite the availability of fertile land and demand for yam domestically and abroad.
He said producing yams for the domestic and export markets was the lifeline of KYFA members but the annual glut on the local market forced them “To sell their produce at such low prices which causes investment losses”.
“We are unable to go to the huge international yam market, where yams from Ghana are well sought after, all because farmers are unable to meet the export specifications of size due to the lack of technical support”.
Mr Okrah therefore, stressed the need for an improved business environment through technical training of selected members of KYFA as trainers, by the appropriate state institutions.
He said they could use demonstration farms to address extension inadequacies, thereby multiplying the new technical knowledge and skills of producing exportable yams.
Mr Okrah said the association had more than 200 members and its objectives include making farming a living business, in order to contribute to achieving food security, job creation and wealth generation.