The National Programme Coordinator of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Victoria Adongo has urged government to use the 2015 budget to address challenges relating to agriculture extension delivery in Ghana.
According to her, though smallholder farmers dominate the agricultural sector in the food crop sector and they account for between 70 to 80 percent of the total labour force in the sector yet they are faced with numerous challenges which include inadequate access to quality extension services.
?Delivering effective extension services are a complex process that requires financial and human resources and the ability to secure political will,? Adongo explained.
?She urged the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance to use the 2015 budget to address the financial and human resources barriers to agricultural extension in Ghana.
The persistence of this problem has resulted in the inability of these farmers to improve productivity, thus the characteristic low income status associated with small scale farmers. A policy brief put together by Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and SEND-GHANA reveals that the national farmer-extension ratio stands at 1 Agricultural Extension Agent (AEA) to 1,500 farmers.
This worrying situation has resulted in poor agronomic practices; post-harvest management challenges; inefficient use of inputs; abuse of pesticides; low adaptive capacity for research and technology uptake; and inadequate access to auxiliary information that could help increase agricultural productivity in Ghana.
So far approaches aimed at solving the problems with extension service delivery have not been contextualized properly.
Funding for the implementation of extension policy is woefully inadequate and it is characterized by untimely releases. This has negatively affected the performance of extension advisory services thereby threatening the realization of the strategic objectives of the Extension Service Policy.
At a recently held policy dialogue funded by Trust Africa, a grant making organisation based in Dakar, Senegal on the need to increase investment in Extension Service provision in Ghana by PFAG and SEND-GHANA, peasant farmers decried inadequate extension services?in the agriculture sector.
A local radio Joy FM website Myjoyonline reported that, the farmers blame government for shirking its responsibility towards the agriculture sector and for making farmers even poorer.
Stakeholders who attended the dialogue expressed worry over what they described as government lackadaisical attitude towards the sector, Myjoyonline reported.
The President of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Mohammed Adam Nasiru said it is about time for government and stakeholders to walk the talk.
He said there has been a total lack of political will to implement what will change the fortunes of agriculture in the country.
He wondered why Ghana is trailing behind Burkina Faso in the production of cotton, when Ghana has better conditions.
He also lamented the farmer to extension officer ratio which is averagely quoted to be between 1,500:1 saying the issue about ?an extension officer is like providing a brand new bus but without a driver.?
?Agriculture in Ghana cannot function well without the extension officers,? he pointed out.
Queronica Quarter who is with Action Aid, said government has a social contract with the citizenry and must begin to live up to its responsibility of making Ghana a food secured country.
She said Ghana has many brilliant agricultural policies but lacked the power to implement them. She implored government to look at the current challenges such as lack of agriculture inputs, credit facilities, market, storage materials and address them, Myjoyonline reported.
The event offered opportunity to SEND-GHANA to present a comprehensive policy brief containing recommendations that seeks to enhance investment in agriculture extension and improvement in extension service delivery with the aim of ensuring food security and increased income among smallholder farmers in Ghana.