Only 35 percent of arable lands, approximately 2,315,43 hectares are under cultivation in the Northern Region, while the remaining 65 percent are lying idle, Alhaji Shani Alhassan Shaibu, the Regional Minister has revealed.
He attributed the situation to the over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, low mechanisation, high post-harvest losses and poor marketing affecting large scale farming in the area even though all crops do thrive in the area.
The Minister was taking his turn to sell his Region during the official opening of the 37th edition of the Farmers’ Day celebration and Trade Exhibition in Cape Coast last Monday.
However, he was hopeful that considering the numerous valleys in the Eastern and Central parts of the region, in addition to some small and medium scale dams, the issue of irrigation for crops will be resolved.
The farmers in his area, he said had embraced government’s policy interventions as an effective measure of strengthening and expanding the target areas to improve productivity and their well-being.
The interventions include; Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ), agricultural mechanisation centre (AMSEC) and the Green House Technology Village Project, Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) among others.
Supporting his claim, he announced that under the PFJ programme alone, a total of 333,708 farmers made up of 286,354 males and 47,354 females had benefited from the supply of subsidized fertilizer, maize, rice and soya seeds from 2017 to 2021.
This year, he said about 1,889 tonnes of maize (OPV), 1,910 maize hybrid and 4,669 metric tons of rice were received in the region and distributed, while from 2019 to date, a total of 1,168,942 cashew seedlings had been distributed to 4,729 farmers, covering 3,304 hectares under PERD.
Touting the agricultural endowments in the Northern Region, he said traditional cereals such as maize, rice, millet and legumes like groundnut, cowpea, soya beans as well as orange, flesh sweet potato and also, roots and tubers – yam, cassava, do well in the area.
In addition to that leafy vegetables such as pepper, tomatoes, okro and tree crops such as cashew, mango and shea grow well in their soils.
As well, he said the enviable location in the guinea Savannah zone exposed the area to suitable conditions for rearing livestock including cattle, goats, sheep as well as birds; guinea fowls, pigeons, ducks among others.
The Regional Minister expressed the willingness of the regional administration to co-operate with all prospective local and international investors to invest in the area to accelerate jobs creation and development.
“I invite all prospective investors to explore the rich soils of the North for the production of crops and livestock. The benefits will indeed be very immense to all such investors and I can assure you that a warm reception awaits all of you.
“Our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), traditional rulers and communities have been well sensitised and are ready to receive and facilitate any such investors,” he appealed.
He also assured of huge market potentials which could be developed with an estimated 2.4million population and easy access to other Sahel countries; Burkina Faso, Mali, among others.
Alhaji Shaibu said, the area had enjoyed relative peace with the resolution of some age-long conflicts in Dagbon in addition to the upgrading of the Tamale Airport to international status which will ease the transportation of agricultural produce to Europe and beyond