Business News of Friday, 8 April 2016

Source: Graphic.com.gh

MoFA establishes demonstration farms in districts

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has established 1,242 community demonstration centres in 117 districts to educate farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector on new improved technologies in crop production.

The improved crops are cassava (Ampong, Sikabankye, Otuhia and Bronibankye), sweet potato (Apomuden, Ogyefo, Tech Santom) and cocoyam.

Others are maize (Omankwa, Abontem and other varieties which are drought tolerant), rice (Agra rice), sorghum, groundnut and cowpea.

The centres were established under the phase two project of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) in 2013 to generate and disseminate improved technologies to increase the production of root and tuber crops, cereals, legumes and livestock.

As part of the project, there were also community field demonstrations, training of trainers programmes, study tours for farmers and the printing and distribution of technical materials for stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

The Deputy Director at the Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES), Mr Emmanuel Agyei Odame, who briefed the Daily Graphic, said in all, about 171,229 farmers, comprising 68,492 females and 102,337 males, benefited from the exercise.

He said the ministry had also organised training programmes for supervisors, field officers and farmers on maize storage to enhance knowledge in its conservation.

Other topics treated were yield loss assessment, the prevention and management of crop production, the safe use of agro-chemicals, accessing credit by farmers, poor post-harvest handling of vegetables and food safety.

Mr Odame said MoFA had also organised study tours for beneficiary farmers, field officers and supervisors to model farms for experiential learning.

Among the agribusinesses visited were B-BOVID Ltd, Ginafil Foods and Industries Ghana Ltd, the Kpong Irrigation Scheme, Golden Exotics Ghana Ltd, Ghana Flowers and Greens Ltd and the Dahwenya Irrigation Scheme.

He said the technical knowledge acquired from the exercise had improved the expertise of MoFA staff on good land management and environmental practices and the handling of root and tuber crops to ensure good yields.

"To ensure active participation, ownership and effective supervision in the regions, DAES financially supported the regional directors of agriculture and their extension officers to supervise the establishment of community field demonstrations. This, in effect, helped in the successful implementation of the project in the 10 regions," he said.

Mr Odame said 40,000 posters on improved varieties of root and tuber crops such as cassava, cocoyam and sweet potato had been distributed to farmers in the country.

He said a Farmer Field School (FFS) had also been established in the Agona East District to train supervisors and agricultural extension officers on good agricultural practices on cassava and sweet potato production.

As a result of the demonstrations, farmer groups in the Asante Akyem North and the Sekyere East Districts had adopted the use of the minimum tillage system that was giving them high yields,” he stated.

A beneficiary of the demonstration exercise, Mr Lasbat Darko, emerged as the Abuano District Best Farmer in Sweet Potato in 2013.

He said the introduction of the Apomuden variety to farmers in the Kotoso community in the Kwahu East District had revamped sweet potato production in the area.

The Manchie Farmers Women’s Group in the Samsam community in the Ga West District in the Greater Accra Region, Mr Odame added, had begun the cultivation of sweet potato.

“They had also adopted the Bronibankye and Sikabankye varieties for cultivation and processing into gari,” he said.

He said following such success stories, there was high demand for the establishment of more demonstration fields to assist peasant farmers in their farming activities.
Mr Odame advised farmers to form groups to enable them to benefit from such support.