There is an increase demand for certified seeds due to the ongoing Planting for Food and Jobs Programme, Mr Emmanuel Asante-Krobea, the Technical Advisor to the Minister of Food and Agriculture has said.
Speaking at a forum to sensitise farmers on the 2018 Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Programme in Accra, Mr Asante-Krobea said there was also an increase in local seeds production.
He said last year, the programme mobilised 4,000 metric tonnes of seeds and this year it has risen to 9,000 metric tonnes of seeds from local seed producers.
Mr Asante-Krobea said currently government had contracted 10 different organic fertilizer companies to put their products on the market for farmers.
The event, organised by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is to support members with information that would improve their farming operations and also give farmers a full understanding of the Programme, their responsibility and expectations.
The forum, forms part of AGRA’s activities being implemented to address the challenges in the 2017 implementation and measures adopted by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to avoid similar occurrences.
He said this year; government was using the coupon scheme to distribute the fertilizers to enable farmers access the input on time.
The Technical Advisor said the inputs under the programme would now be distributed by extension officers, who were based in the farming communities, adding that, by the end of the year government would recruit 2,000 extension workers.
On smuggling, Mr Asante-Krobea said smuggling was of national concern and called on all Ghanaians, including the security agencies to assist check the menace and let the right farmers access the inputs.
Mr Ebenezer Aboagye, the Deputy Director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, speaking on the Fall Army Worm invasion that affected farmers last year, said the menace would not go completely.
He said the Ministry had put measures in place to mitigate its effect, including educating farmers to know what the Fall Armyworms were and report early when detected.
He also assured workers that the Ministry was working towards finding natural raiders that would feed on the worms as a permanent solution to the invasion.
Mr Charles Nyaaba, Programmes Officer of the PFAG, said per their monitoring of the Programme in all the 10 regions, farmers commended government for the introduction of the initiative but said government needed to check the delay in inputs supply.
He called on the Ministry to find ways to check the smuggling of the fertilizer meant for the farmers, urging the Ministry to have a system where the Fertilizer Watchdog Committees established by the PFAG could be empowered and recognised by the security agencies at the regional and district levels to ease their work.