Business News of Sunday, 1 October 2017
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on government to streamline the registration of beneficiaries under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme (PFJ) by allowing farmer-based organizations (FBOs) to lead the process.
Mr Isaac Pabia, Focal Person of PFAG in the Kasena/Nankana West District, who delivered a summary of assessment of the PFJ by PFAG members at a conference in Tamale, said allowing FBOs to lead the registration process would ensure that real farmers benefited from the programme.
The conference, organized by PFAG with support from Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and attended by selected PFAG members drawn from across the country, was to provide government with evidence of successes and challenges of the implementation of the PFJ and the Fertilizer Subsidy Programmes.
Mr Pabia said the current system of registering beneficiary farmers allowed some non-farmers to register for the programme and collected inputs, some of which ended up in the open market.
He said some farmers were also concerned about the late distribution of seeds, some of which were costly and not the usual varieties they normally cultivated forcing them to buy other seeds.
He also cited the challenge of access to tractors for early land preparation for planting saying this made some members of PFAG miss the right time to prepare their lands for planting.
Mr Pabia said the issue of inadequate number of extension officers was still a challenge appealing to government to address the farmer-extension gap to support farmers for increased productivity.
He also expressed need for government to label fertilizers as “subsidized and not for sale in open market” to help curb smuggling of subsidized fertilizers.
He said many farmers also raised concerns of fall army worms attacking their farms and called on government to help find a biological solution to the situation.
Mr Pabia described the PFJ as generally helpful ensuring farmers’ increased access to inputs at affordable prices enabling them to increase the acreages cultivated.
Mr Salifu Saeed, Northern Regional Minister, said “Government recognizes that economic growth led by agricultural sector will be most effective in reducing poverty at the national level and in deprived regions because of the strong income and consumption linkages.”
He commended PFAG for assessing the PFJ saying “Government appreciates your efforts and as a listening government, we are happy to get feedback on government’s investment in the sector to help improve further.”