Government asked to privatize agric extension services

A farmer has appealed to the government to privatize the provision of agricultural extension services to enable more farmers to benefit from the services.

Mr Joe Eck, a mixed crop farmer at Suhum in the Eastern Region, said this would lead to improved agricultural productivity to ensure food security as well as make farmers derive maximum returns from their investment.

Mr Eck was speaking to the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a five-day Advocacy Training Workshop on Increasing Agricultural Extension Services for Small-holder Farmers organized by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) in Accra on Tuesday.

The workshop, sponsored by the BUSAC Fund, is being attended by about 20 farmers’ groups leaders drawn from across the country.

Its objective is to equip the participants with knowledge about advocacy to enable them to engage agricultural training institutions, Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other stakeholders to conduct a research on the farmer/extension officer ratio in the country and come out with practicable ways to address the shortfall.

Statistics on the country’s farmer/extension officer ratio show that 1,300 farmers are assigned to one extension officer, a situation that makes most farmers not to gain access to the services because extension officers are also under-resourced in terms of logistics to enable them to visit the farms.

Mr Eck said privatizing the extension services would improve the situation since there would be enough motivation to make the officers to discharge their duties effectively.

It will also lead to a reduction in the high attrition rate facing the sector and ensure that more of the trained officers remained on their jobs to educate the farmers, especially on the application of new technology.

Mr Eck said similar intervention had been implemented in the veterinary sector leading to improved service delivery to farmers.

Ms Sussie Sekor, a rice farmer and rice processor from Hohoe in the Volta Region, supported the call to privatize the extension services sector to enable especially more women farmers who lacked knowledge in the application of new technology to benefit for improved production.

Mr Ambrose Yennah, Chief Executive of Africa Integrated Development and Communications Consultancy, one of the two resource persons for the workshop, called for collaboration among stakeholders to improve farmers’ access to extension services.

Mr Yennah suggested that there should be increase in the intake of students into the agriculture training institutions, increase the number of training institutions and improve the conditions of service of extension officers.