FARMERS IN N/R DISCOURAGED BY GOVT
From: Joseph Ziem, Tamale
The pilot project of the block farms concept adopted by the Mills’ administration during the 2009 cropping season to boost food production yielded positive results but it is likely to be unsuccessful this year.
The initiative was aimed at improving agriculture and farming as an innovative business that could reduce the unemployment situation in the country if people especially the youth get interested in farming.
The project involves targeting large tracks of arable land in blocks for the production of commodities which have comparative advantage in specific areas and locations.
However, the 5,009 farmers in the Northern Region who cultivated various cereal crops most especially rice are still battling with how to market their produce.
This news comes at a time the rainy season is just around the corner and the large number of farmers, who cultivated the crop last year, are feigning interest to be engaged again.
Even farmers, who could not participate last year and planned to take part this year, have also been discouraged by the lack of market for previous farmers.
An estimated 89,212.5 bags of rice from 3,965 hectares were harvested during the 2009 farming season in the region but several months after harvesting, government is yet to come to the aid of farmers to market or buy their produce as promised them last year.
Before harvesting the rice, government promised to buy a bag of rice each for 27 Ghanaian Cedis but that the farmers even complained.
Speaking to The Daily Dispatch, Chief Executive Officer of Ayana Group of Companies appealed to the government to honour its promise of buying rice from farmers to enable them go into farming this year.
According to Alhaji Ayana Yakubu, he had been able to secure loan from various financial institutions to venture into the purchase of large quantity of rice but that was not enough.
He said the earlier government whipped up the interest of the farmers by buying the rice they harvested last year the better, else the over 5000 farmers were totally discouraged and demoralized to farm this year for nonexistent markets.
Alhaji Ayana who owns a mango plantation, deals in sheanuts and also into travelling agency business disclosed that he had purchased over 30,000 bags of rice to be sold to the state for reimbursement. Adding, “I am targeting a total of 200,000 bags of paddy rice”.
He hinted that he has also engaged about 150 young men and women in the project which has created a lot of employment to the youth. According to the CEO of Ayana Group of Companies, he is currently buying the rice in the Karaga, Gushiegu, Nanton, Tampion, Pishigu, and Yamo-Karaga.
He finally called on officials of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, the Buffer Stock Companies, Ghana Prisons Service and other organizations like World Food Programme to come to the aid of the farmers who were highly indebted to the banks.