Dry season farmers in the Upper East Region have expressed worry about the rising cost of farm inputs and the effect this has on their vocation.
They said recent hikes in prices of petroleum products, rise in fertilizer prices, seeds and other related farm inputs were threatening agribusiness and threatening the future farmers in the region.
Mr John Akaribo, the Focal Person for Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) in the Upper East Region, who spoke to the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga, bemoaned the price hikes, especially on petroleum products and farm inputs and said it was greatly affecting dry season farming in the region.
Mr Akaribo, briefing the GNA after visiting the Bawku area dry season farmers, said, “the situation is one of hopelessness because most of the dams and dugouts have run out of water, and those that have water, farmers cannot afford the cost of petrol and diesel to pump water to water the crops.”
“It is sad to see women digging the farms to harvest onions and other vegetable and root crops. I shed tears when I encountered these women in their situation because it was hopeless and the effect clearly will be shortages of food and starvation, and the poverty cycle will continue,” he added.
He called on the government to make the importation of fertilizer and other farm inputs competitive to allow farmers to make choices and secure better deals from input dealers.
Mr Francis Bondema, a dry season vegetable farmer at Pwalugu, who confirmed Mr Akaribo’s concerns, said, “this unpredictable phenomenon is having an unhealthy impact on farmers and will affect food produce negatively this season.”
He explained that most of his colleague farmers ventured into the dry season farming because of the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs flagship programme only to get stuck halfway, following the rising cost of inputs.
Mr Bondema said most farmers were likely to abandon their farms because they were financially trapped and incapable of meeting the cost of production during the season if the government did not take immediate steps “to come to our aid with some stimulating packages to allow us to continue with the farming this season and to allay our fear and hopelessness.”
Dry season farming is very popular among the people of the Upper East Region because of the erratic rainfall pattern in the area with only about four months of active rainfall and a productive farming period.
The GNA is informed that it takes about 20 litres of petrol or 15 litres of diesel to service half an acre of a vegetable farm in a day. It is estimated that an average farmer tilling an acre of land would need at least GHC100 to service the farm daily until the crops mature for harvest in four, five or six months.