Smallholder farmers identify issues impeding their work
Smallholder farmers have identified delays by government in the supply of farm inputs; inadequate credit support and virtual absence of agricultural extension agents as impeding the development of their activities.
To them, though government recognized the problems facing smallholder farmers, only limited steps have been taken to address the situation.
They noted that the smallholder farmer had a place in agriculture, food security and broad based poverty reduction and should not be over emphasized.
The consultative meeting between the Ministry of Agriculture (MOFA), farmers and farmer networks discussed issues affecting smallholder agriculture and women smallholder farmers.
It was organized by Actionaid Ghana, to create a platform for key stakeholders to discuss the main issues and concerns, as well as build a consensus to address the challenges confronting the smallholder farmer.
The meeting will also develop a manual and a checklist on addressing key priority problems.
Mr Andrews Bukari, of the Upper East Regional Farmers Network, who spoke passionately on behalf of the farmers, said farmers had problems with late arrival of seed, which was their biggest challenge.
“Instead of MOFA giving us the seeds in the Month of May to coincide with the onset of the rains, they always come in July ending when we have already missed the heavy rains”, he explained.
He also complained about the insufficient support given to women farmers, who he said, constituted 95 per cent of those involved in agro-processing and 85 per cent of them in food distribution and called for a greater attention to be directed to these women.
Mr Bukari expressed concern about the statement that farmers do not re-pay their loans given them, saying that, “unfortunately, these monies do not come to us and we will want the Ministry of Agriculture to investigate thoroughly where these monies go to.”
He called on farmers to come together and have a common voice to fight their cause and ensure the development of their profession.
Mr Tabi Karikari, an Agricultural and Natural Resources Management Specialist of the African Development Bank, challenged Ghanaian farmers to see farming as a business and behave as such, instead of being so much dependent on government for every single thing.
He noted that food security was important and government has put in some measures but cannot do everything.
“Things are changing worldwide and we should look at farming as a business due to the new paradigm or else we will be doing things in a different way”, he added.
He acknowledged that funding for farmers was a major challenge and urged other stakeholders and government to assist farmers in that direction.
Alhaji Emmanuel Adam Mahama, National Coordinator of the Youth in Agriculture Programme, who represented MOFA, identified some challenges working against small holder farmers and listed the non-payment of agriculture loans, poor linkages between executives of farmer groups and the membership groupings, low flow of information from grassroots to inform policy and programmes, as well as feedback.
He said MOFA was partnering with the Private sector to help improve the conditions and services of the smallholder farmers.
Ms Queronica Q. Quartey, Policy and Campaign Manager of Actionaid, said the forward-looking strategies that would be proposed at the meeting will be used to develop a handbook to provide a checklist on the listed tenets and their facilitation of smallholder agriculture and women smallholder farmers in agricultural development.