Farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the Upper West region have expressed disappointment at frequent changes in formulation and implementation of agriculture policies and programmes.
They advised government to initiate long-term policies and programmes that could stand the test of time and be beneficial to farmers rather than confusing them with many agriculture policies and programmes.
The stakeholders expressed their frustration at a Regional Stakeholders Orientation Forum during which the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan for the region was presented in Wa on Thursday.
Traditional rulers, farmers, agriculturalists, lectures from the University For Development Studies, scientists from Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, among others attended the event.
The plan contains the policy vision of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) that seeks to modernize the sector through the injection of finances and adaptation of best practices to help reduce poverty.
The farmers explained that the duplication of policies and programmes meant that government had failed in implementing successfully the many policies and programmes planned for the agricultural sector.
They called on government to focus on the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes on agricultural development at the regional level and encourage effective participation of the private sector in the importation of tractors and other agricultural machinery into the country.
“Government should stop its monopoly over the importation of agricultural machinery and other equipment as the practice tends to put too much pressure on government and cause a lot of frustration to farmers.”
The farmers said soils in the northern part of the country were becoming fragile and advised government not to place too much emphasize on the importation of tractors alone, but to support farmers to use animal traction and other simple implements for agricultural production.
“We are also not happy that tractors imported into the country only come with their ploughs and sometimes some come with no trailers and other components that farmers needed to use to boost agriculture,” the participants lamented.
They appealed to government to make spare parts of tractors and other farm machinery available at affordable prices to farmers so that they could rehabilitate their broken down machines.
On loans, the farmers suggested that bank loans should be in the form of inputs and not direct cash to prevent misuse of the facility.
The farmers called on MOFA to encourage farmers to utilize dams and other water bodies to increase food and animal husbandry production.
They also advocated the mechanization of boreholes for agriculture production.