The farmers on demonstration
Vegetable farmers in the Ketu South Municipality of the Volta region took to the streets on Tuesday to protest against what they described as ‘killer tariffs.’
According to them, the cost of irrigating farms has risen by over 200 percent owing to the increment in utility tariffs.
The farmers, who covered about seven kilometres in about an hour and 30 minutes during the protest, said that most of their farms were collapsing as a result of the high electricity tariff that has rendered most of the enterprising youth jobless.
The farmers, in a petition, called on the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC) to issue “a workable tariff that will ensure that the whole industry does not collapse and lead to untold hardships and unrest in the municipality.”
They also called for the development of a special tariff structure for farmers and others in agriculture sector to save the industry, their dependants and the economy.
The depressed farmers, who are all members of the Ketu South Municipal Farmers Association (KESMUFA), warned that if their grievances are not addressed, they would embark on demonstrations every six months.
Robert Kukpawu, spokesman, who read the petition, noted that tension has been mounting in the association for some time now.
The demonstration comes a little over a month after farmers in Keta and Anlogo embarked on a similar demonstration to protest against high electricity tariff.
Mr. Kukpawu could not fathom why a sector, which provides about 30,000 jobs in the industry in the municipality and beyond, including 4,500 direct jobs, would be left to collapse.
KESMUFA is made up of 25 Farmer-Based Organisations (FBOs) with total membership of 1,200.
Chairman of the Utility Committee of the Association, Ernest Okai Danso, said that some of his colleagues had stopped their businesses because they could not pay their bills while those who were still operating were hugely indebted.
Every month, I pay over GH¢300 for irrigating my nursery which used to cost GH¢90 previously, irrigating transplanted crops now cost me over GH¢500.00 whereas it cost GH¢200 recently, he indicated.
He said aside this, the importation of vegetables was also making farming an expensive venture in Ghana.
Another issue that is affecting our work is the lack of storage facilities, which has made it difficult for farmers to preserve their produce, Mr. Danso stated.
From Fred Duodu, Aflao ([email protected])