By Edzorna Francis Mensah
Majority of Members of Parliament have identified bad road networks in farming communities nationwide as a major factor in post-harvest losses of agriculture products.
The MPs have recognized the fact that many farming communities particularly the Northern zone of Ghana where majority of agriculture products are produced do not have the needed roads for the goods to be transported to Market Centers and major cities on time.
The MPs who were contributing to a statement on the deplorable roads in the Salaga South Constituency and its effects on agriculture called on the Government and other stakeholders to fix the roads to avert food crisis in the country.
According to the maker of the statement, Hajia Zuwera Mohammed Ibrahimah MP, Salaga-South, Ghana’s economy until recent years has been dominated by Agriculture and Agric-related activities and she emphasized that, “in 2001, for instance, agriculture contributed 54% to Ghana’s GDP and accounted for over 40% of the country’s export earnings, while at the same time providing over 90% of the food needs of the country (SRID 2001). These numbers have since been on the decline in recent times”.
She said, even though the services sector overtook agriculture in terms of contribution to GDP, in the last decade, the role of agriculture in Ghana’s economy remains enormously significant and must be seen as a critical sector since large numbers of people are into farming for sustenance.
Madam Zuwera who acknowledged the tremendous contribution made over the years by rural smallholder farmers to the economy, also submitted that, one thing that remains the bane to their progress is the deplorable road networks in most of rural Ghana.
“While the rainy season renders most of these roads unmotorable, the dry season presents its unique problem of excessive dust, causing great inconvenience of moving farm produce from the farms to market centers on one end, and inputs from the markets to the farms on the other. Often only a few trucks can take the risk to ply these roads, which adversely affects the loading capacity of the vehicles”, she added.
The MP said, “enabling the effective exchange of goods and services, the road sector makes a tremendous contribution to the economic development of rural societies and the eradication of the existing rural-urban disparities.
Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of how our rural road transport networks are generally of a low-quality owing to little priority accorded to them”.
She maintained that, the negative effects of this situation on agriculture and economic activities in her constituency are innumerable and notable ones are as follows:
1. High percentage of post-harvest losses due to the unavailability of vehicles to convey farm produce to market centers. It is estimated that about (54%), i.e., more than half of farm produce is lost and the Salaga – Boankwa road readily comes to mind.
2. Rising cost of transportation of people and goods from one location to the other cannot be ignored. The Salaga – Kafaba road for instance, is so bad that only a few vehicles can defy the odds to go to those areas. The resultant effect is that fewer vehicles are available to ply the road.
3. Rising food prices. It has been established that more than half of farm produce is lost because of bad roads thus farmers are compelled to raise prices so they could at least break even.
4. Unavailability of modern farming technology to drive production and increase productivity. In the Salaga-South constituency, technology transfer is almost nonexistent. The bad road network in areas such as Nfulanipe – Boankwa, Kumburupe – Accrape, Salaga – Kulpi, Salaga – Kulpi, Salaga-Kafaba, Prang Abromase has been an impediment to any form of development in these areas.
5. High rate of Rural-Urban Migration. The adverse effects of rural-urban migration can be looked at in two folds; while the local communities get deprived of active and productive individuals who drive economic activity, the hosting urban communities in turn suffer congestion, pressure on social amenities, high prevalence of crime and social vices.
6. Long travel time to the market center creates discomfort and inconveniences including health challenges. This invariably means that most of the money these market women make ends up being used to pay hospital bills and buy medicines.
As she concluded that the narrative of bad roads as a major impediment in farming communities in Salaga-South must change urgently….. “in ensuring that we achieve zero hunger and end extreme poverty, which are some of the key objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must find ways to boost agricultural activities in rural areas and improve the commercial capacity of smallholder farmers”.