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Business News of Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Source: B&FT

Rural farmers cry for help

Rural farmers have called on President John Dramani Mahama to refocus attention on implementing targetted policies to address the myriad of problems they face.

According to Agro Mindset Organisation, a farmer-based organisation, a concerted effort to ensure access to credit facilities to expand and modernise their operations, availability of improved and subsidised seeds and inputs, and the construction of irrigational facilities is needed to ensure regular food production by rural farmers and improve on their standard of living.

Closer agricultural extension services, training in entrepreneurship and literacy, and the facilitation of the establishment of cooperative societies are the other necessities.

Mr. David Asare Asiamah, the Executive Director of Agro Mindset Organisation, organisation in a statement said: “The rural poor are the people who deserve the support even more, because they have shown that they are fully committed to the art and science of growing food, and they would be able to make an even more meaningful impact if given adequate support.”

He called for the integration of farms in the country into value chains to provide new sources for agricultural products. This, according to him, will also enable smallholders to purchase better inputs, raise investment levels and create agribusiness practices that will create business-growth opportunities for smallholders.

The annual domestic deficit in maize, the largest staple crop in the country which is largely cultivated by poor rural farmers, is estimated to be between 84,000 and 145,000 metric tonnes.

The crop, which is the second largest commodity crop in the country after cocoa, accounts for 50-60 percent of total cereal production and is an important crop for Ghana’s agricultural sector and for food security.

The shortfall in the production of the crop, which leads to higher prices, adversely affects small income families who rely heavily on it.

The poultry industry is the hardest hit, as poultry farmers have to import expensive yellow maize to feed their birds.

“Prioritising agricultural development, with some focus on the poor farmers, will yield significant, interconnected benefits, particularly in achieving food security and reducing hunger; increasing incomes and reducing poverty; advancing the human development agenda in health and education; and reversing environmental damage,” Mr. Asiamah said.

He lauded the Youth in Agric initiative and said “there is the need to develop more of such policies to motivate young people to go into agriculture to sustain the sector and, at the same time, solve the problem of youth unemployment.”

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