Netherlands Ambassador tells Ghana government to create enabling environment for thriving agriculture
Mr Jeroen Verheul, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, has emphasised the need for the government to prioritise the agriculture sector and create a conducive environment for its flourishing.
Ambassador Verheul emphasized that agriculture served as the backbone of the Ghanaian economy with farmers constituting a vital segment of the working population.
He said since agriculture was a significant source of livelihood for farmers, government must pay critical attention to that sector, also because of its importance for both local and the larger national economy.
He, therefore, commended the Government for the successful launch of the second phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PfFJs) programme, saying it was a commendable step of how the government was promoting the country’s agriculture to a higher level.
Ambassador Verheul was speaking in an interview with the media after the inauguration of a farmers’ Knowledge Transfer and Learning Site at Abesim, near Sunyani.
It was established by the East West Seed Foundation, a non-governmental organisation under East West Seeds (EWS) International, a leading hybrid seed producer headquartered in Thailand, and aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange to enhance best agricultural practices for local farmers.
It would also give farmers the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge by utilising simple technologies that used natural materials like cocoa leaves, rice straw, dried grass and corn husks found in their environment for mulching techniques to achieve higher crop yields.
As a demonstration, there was a cultivation of a variety of vegetables including Onions (Prema), Cabbage (Nuzaka F1), Cucumber (Nandini), Sweet Corn (Sugar King F1), Tomato (Padma F1), Egg Plant (Kibibi F1), and Hot Pepper (Efia F1) at the site.
The event attracted farmers from the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions and selected farmers from other parts of the country.
Ambassador Verheul expressed satisfaction for the farmers’ existing knowledge and techniques in vegetable production, saying, it was important to expose them to new and innovative ideas, as that would expand their expertise and enable them to produce higher quality crops for the market and contribute to safeguarding food security.
He said the Dutch government was providing financial assistance to the learning sites to enable the hiring of additional extension workers and the creation of more demonstration plots that would be training grounds for farmers to learn and implement the innovative techniques developed by the East West Foundation.
Ambassador Verheul emphasised the importance of the knowledge transfer, saying that initiative aimed to not only benefit the Ghanaian economy but also contribute to the growth of the Dutch economy.
Mr Coen Everts, the Business Development Manager of EWS International, on his part, expressed the organization’s objective of enhancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by equipping them with the necessary knowledge and resources to maximize agricultural yields and improve overall productivity.
He said the organisation believed that sustainable business growth could be achieved by empowering farmers through access to knowledge and providing quality seeds to contribute to the long-term success of the agricultural sector.
Mr Everts said the learning site had made a significant investment in training 10,000 farmers during its first year of operation to equip them with enhanced knowledge and skills to engage in profitable farming practices, resulting in higher yields and increased incomes.
In another interview, Mr Samuel Atitsogbe, a farmer and participant, expressed satisfaction with the techniques introduced through the knowledge transfer programme and indicated that those new methods surpassed the traditional farming practices that had been employed for years.
Mr. Atitsogbe highlighted the innovative approaches to bed preparation and seed nurturing, which he believed would greatly assist farmers in improving their farming techniques and achieving the desired level of profitability.