The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, has called on government to intensify education on its Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign among farmers.
The call followed a comprehensive evaluation survey conducted by the Institute on farmers in the Assin South, Kwaebibirem and Shai-Osudoku districts, which revealed that a majority of the farmers did not know about the subsidy component and improved seeds that were being offered.
The Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is a government campaign which started in 2017 as a provider of well-timed solutions to the farming needs of the Ghanaian farmer.
Its main component is the provision of half priced seeds and fertilizers to smallholder farmers to help them to increase their yields and income.
The survey, according to a statement from ISSER, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said farmers praised the campaign for making inputs such as seeds and fertilizers available to all farmers based on their ability to buy, as compared to previous programmes of input distribution.
Other observations of the study were that majority of the farmers were still operating at the subsistence level, and there was an awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adhere to the preventive protocols.
The rest were that the pandemic did not affect much of the production subsector but had an average effect on the marketing of their produce and price fluctuation and exploitation by middle men/women were the two biggest problems enumerated by the respondents.
The study, therefore, recommended that more extension officers should be recruited to augment the efforts of the current ones, and District Agricultural officers and extension officers be made to explain the programme and its objectives to the farmers.
“Many of the farmers interviewed were not aware of the programme and thought they were buying the inputs at full price,” the statement said.
The study also encouraged government to establish a Maize Buying Company under the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO), like that of the Produce Buying Company(PBC) under the COCOBOD to give farmers ready market and assure price certainty to enable farmers to increase the amount of acreage cultivated.
Each of the districts, it said, also required basic mechanization equipment like maize shellers and combined harvesters at competitive rates to ease the work of the farmers.
The government’s one village, one dam project, should be extended to farmers in the Shai Osudoku District for the peculiar nature of their land which had similar characteristics as that of the Savanna Region, it said, explaining that, it would aid them in an all year-round cultivation of farm produce and support their livestock.
“There must be a replication of the co-operative system currently under the auspices of the COCOBOD starting with maize (the most cultivated) farmers. This will help make them have a strong bargaining power in the activities of the district with policies concerning them and avoid diversion of inputs meant for them.
“If there is a choice with which of the inputs the farmers are keen on, then the policy should focus on the fertilizers since many of the farmers re-plant the seeds after each season,” the statement advised.
The statement also suggested that a community-based PFJ programme be established for every community.
“The government through the district assembly should support each community to cultivate a farm produce that is known to do well as a community project, which will be owned and worked on by the community,” it said.
It also urged the government to task the NAFCO to off-take the produce and the funds accrued out of it to be used for Agricultural mechanization and community development such as building of community warehouses.