The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on the government to roll out a different stimulus package targeting smallholder farmers to revamp their operations.
Mr Charles Kwowe Nyaaba, Head of Programmes and Advocacy at PFAG, who made the call, said “We think that if we want this country to become food secure next year, government needs to come out with a different funding mechanism that addresses specific needs of smallholder farmers”.
He made the call at a training on COVID-19 held at Sognayili in the Sagnarigu Municipality for Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) drawn from the Tamale Metropolis, Sagnarigu and Savelugu Municipalities of the Northern Region.
The training, organised by PFAG, was to equip participants with knowledge on the transmission, symptoms and safety precautions on COVID-19, such that they would also educate farmers on the disease as part of their extension activities to help curb its spread.
As part of the training, PFAG presented a veronica bucket each including other personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Departments of Agriculture in the Tamale Metropolis and Sagnarigu Municipality to help ensure hygiene.
Following the emergence of the COVID-19 in the country and its devastating impact on businesses, the government rolled out a GHC600,000,000.00 stimulus package to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to manage the impact of the disease on their operations.
Mr Nyaaba argued that smallholder farmers would not benefit from the current stimulus package because, they neither registered their operations nor had tax identification numbers, which were key requirements for accessing the funds.
He said funds under the currents stimulus package were also not enough, adding, a different stimulus package targeting smallholder farmers would help cushion them in this era of COVID-19 as they needed just between GHC500.00 to GHC2,000.oo to revamp their operations.
He said “We think that farmers bear more of the consequences of COVID-19 than other businesses. Farmers cannot sell their produce because of disruptions in businesses.
Farmers have cleared their lands waiting for tractors to plough but there are no tractors because borders are closed, yet they are left out of the credit facility meant to cushion businesses. If we do not take a second look at that approach, we may be addressing one problem but the problem will escalate to the agricultural sector”.
Mr Iddriss Nouridean, an AEA at the Tamale Metropolis, who spoke on behalf of the participants, said the COVID-19 had overstretched resources of the Departments of Agriculture as AEAs had to now make two trips to communities instead of one for their extension activities to farmers.
Mr Nouridean commended PFAG for the training, saying, it would boost their operations as they and the farmers would keep safe during this era of COVID-19.