The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has pledged its support for efforts being made to improve the agricultural sector towards achieving nutritional and food security in the country.
The National President of PFAG, Mr Abdul- Rahman Mohammed, said the Association appreciates the effort of government and the directive for all institutions to purchase locally produced rice.
He called for a more collaborative effort with farmers to fulfill the drive towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on food security.
Mr Mohammed was speaking at an OSIWA and International Budget Platform sponsored one-day meeting of rice farmers in Navrongo, Kassena Nankana Municipal in the Upper East Region.
The meeting was held to take stock of rice farming in the 2019 cropping season and find strategies for the sector’s development in the five regions of the northern part of the country.
He said in view of the contributory role agriculture plays to provide jobs for the people and for national development, the setbacks were still enormous adding that low and unreliable rainfall patterns, high cost of inputs and difficulty in accessing subsidized fertilizer among others, were hindering farmers from making profits.
Mr Mohammed said post-harvest losses, high cost of mechanization services, low extension services and difficulty in accessing credit facilities for farming was affecting the farmers and called on the government to step up collaboration with farmers for the successful implementation of agricultural policies.
The Head of programmes of PFAG, Mr Charles Nyaaba in an interview, said there are still challenges in accessing combine harvesters, storage facilities, and buyers for the locally produced rice.
He said more harvested rice have not been bought and were still on the farms at the mercy of wildfires adding that buyers who promised to mop up the rice never showed up but concentrated their activities elsewhere.
Mr Nyaaba said “if we do not find ways as a group to provide the government with recommendations to improve the rice sector, “people will mislead and sideline those who are expected to support the rice sector growth since they do not even own farms”.
He urged government to continue to encourage public institutions to purchase locally produced rice, reduce importations and find ways to deal with the right people so that rice marketing challenges could be addressed.
He said mechanization services were still very poor and expressed the hope that stakeholders would make recommendations on the type of mechanizations that would suit each of the rice valleys.