A field workshop to create awareness for citrus farmers, crop researchers and interest groups on angular leaf spot of citrus, also known as citrus airborne disease, has been held at Mankranso in the Ahafo Ano South District in the Ashanti Region.
The two-day workshop, attended by about 50 participants, was organised by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in collaboration with the Platform for Africa-European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD), an agent of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and sponsored by the European Commission.
The workshop aimed at finding solutions to angular leaf spot of citrus disease, which is affecting the quality and yield of citrus plantations in the country.
The workshop was further intended to find answers to major problems inherent in citrus production including post-harvest losses and bring up schemes to promote citrus farming in the country.
The Ahafo Ano South District Director of Food and Agriculture, Dr Alfred Amo, who spoke on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Alhaji A. Yakubu, said over the years the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa had been working to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. He said FARA was going about this mandate through collaborative researches with other institutions and was engaged in agricultural innovation to address the challenges.
He said citrus had become an important non-traditional commodity in the country and a fruit that was very much in demand on international markets. Unfortunately, he added, reports from farmers and other interest groups indicated that its production was being threatened by the angular leaf spot of citrus; a situation that called for urgent attention to save the plant.
According to him, in the face of current challenges, including inadequate personnel of the agricultural extension services of MOFA and dwindling resources, the need had arisen for innovative ways to be found to deliver extension services to farmers. He, therefore, expressed his appreciation to PAEPARD for taking the leading role in fighting the disease in the country.
Dr Yakubu said following collaboration between the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the government, many challenges facing the food and agricultural sector of the economy would be overcome.
In his remark, Prof. Wale Adekunle of FARA stressed the need for farmers to equip themselves with modern farming practices and skills to sustain their occupation. He said more work would have to be done, especially by extension officers and crop processors to ensure the sustainability of citrus production in the country.
The MP for Gomoa West and member of the Agriculture Committee in Parliament, Mr Kojo Arthur, called on the government and other interest groups to focus their attention on citrus production in the country because of its international appeal.
He observed that Ghana had become too dependent on cocoa as a foreign exchange earner, adding that it was time the nation looked for other alternatives to support the economy.
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