The Secretary of the Association, Mr Ademin Atengkperik who read a statement on behalf of the farmers at a press conference on Tuesday at Sandema, said it had come to the realisation that the continuous dependence on the hoe and cutlass as major tools for farming over the years was a major contributory factor to the low agriculture production and food insecurity in the area.
Mr Atengkperik said “Even though government, private organisations and individuals have for some decades made efforts to mechanise agriculture through the provision of tractors and other farm machinery, the desired impact has not been felt among farming populations at Sandema and its environs”.
He said as a result majority of people in the area, who are farmers, were compelled to either use rudimentary implements such as the hoe and cutlass or contract private tractors and bullock ploughs at exorbitant costs to till their fields.
The Association called on public institutions involved in agriculture such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Builsa North District Assembly and other laudable programmes such as SADA and the Northern Rural Growth Programme to establish farm a mechanization centre in Builsa North to cater for the needs of farmers in the District and beyond.
The group said such a facility should take into consideration ploughing, planting, weeding, harvesting, processing and storage of farm produce.
They Association appealed to the government to consider the supply of bullock and donkey ploughs and facilities that could easily be manufactured and assembled locally to meet local environmental conditions as well as the needs of farmers.
“Further, more attention should be given to the development of human capacity in agricultural machinery management, operations and maintenance to ensure sustainability of the facilities to be provided at the centre,” it said.
According to the farmers research conducted by the association in June, 2013 with funding from the BUSAC Fund revealed that the area had vast uncultivated arable land and that with sustained investments in farm mechanization, farmers would utilize the uncultivated arable lands to expand production and increase food and income security.
In terms of tractor services, the research revealed that the services were generally available in the area. However, these services are not adequate to meet the demands of farmers in the area and expensive.
It also revealed that the private sector played the dominant role so far as tractor services provision in the area was concerned. The Presbyterian Agriculture Station in Sandema was found to be very active in the provision of tractor services to farmers over the years.
MOFA and the Builsa North District Assembly were found not to be involved in the provision of tractor services in the District. However, the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority at the time of the research had two tractors in the area which were hired to farmers for ploughing purposes.
The research also showed that even though bullock and donkey ploughing services were available in the district, the services were not adequate to meet the demands of the predominantly farming population in the area.
The research said there was little or no involvement of government in the provision of bullock and donkey ploughing services as the services were primarily provided by private individuals and the minimum cost of hiring bullock or donkey plough for preparing one acre of land was GH¢25.00 while the highest cost was GH¢50.00, which was very expensive for them to afford.
Mr Vincent Subbey, the Monitor of BUSAC Fund, appealed to the farmers to also seek support in the capacity building in the area of marketing their produce and said this could be in the form of adding more value to their produce.
Mr Ernest Beyuo Aayel of BUSAC Service Fund expressed regret that in the three northern regions there was no Food Buffer Company and when they approached the National Food Buffer Company they were advised that farmer Associations could form companies to be licensed by the National Buffer Food Company.
He appealed to farmer Associations in the northern regions to come together and buy food items for the Buffer Food Company, stressing that this would help address the problem of marketing of farm produce.