Findings of a Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) funded research has indicated the bane of government’s efforts at improving the agric sector is the serious lack of agric extension officers to support farmers.
The research project spearheaded by Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG)put the current ratio of extension officers to small holder farmers at a staggering 1:3000. A situation PFAG says is contributing to stagnation in efforts to develop the sector.
Victoria Adongo, Programmes Coordinator at PFAG emphasised the importance of the study saying top among the problems the study sought to understand was why small scale farmers are not accessing adequate extension services.
The study was conducted in the Garu Tempani District in the Upper East Region, Tugu, Nantong and Juni in the Northern Regions, Techiman and Nkoranza in the Brong Ahafo Region, and Ada, Ashigbekope, Ashaiman and Osu Doku in the Southern zone of the country.
Briefing stakeholders on the research findings at the Science & Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Accra on Tuesday, Lead Researcher, Joseph Awantungo, explained that those communities were selected because most of them are food crops and livestock small scale farmers who depend on extension services.
Key among the findings is that more than a quarter of the 600 farmers studied have never had access to agric extension officers, while about the same number had access to extension officers but only once in the whole that year.
Another important finding is that there are fewer women in extension services across the country.
The need for female extension officers has become important because the study found that 55% of female farmers were comfortable working with female extension officers than male extension officers.
Underscoring the importance of extension services, Joseph Awantungo explained that countries that have grown globally in the area of agriculture have done so due to access to information on agricultural technology.
“So if the farmer today still practice the farming methods that were inherited from our great grand fathers and don’t have any capacity or knowledge to transform their use of modern agronomic practices that can increase their yield and investment, then basically they will not benefit”, Mr. Awantungo emphasised.
Speaking to Myjoyonline.com, Mr. Awantungo said the concept of farm radio is being given serious consideration and it is very likely it will be factored in their recommendations.
The idea of farm radio was suggested by a participant at the forum. It involves use of community radio stations in predominantly farming areas to bring agric extension services to homes of farmers.
Other sponsors of the study include DANIDA, USAIDS, DFID and the EU.