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Business News of Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Source: thebftonline.com

Coronavirus: Extend assistance to the country’s food producers to avert a calamity


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The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), a farmer-based organisation, in collaboration with the Health Directorate has begun building the capacity of selected Agriculture Extension Officers across the country to understand the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) COVID-19 Safety Protocols, and adopt the knowledge acquired for the purpose of educating farmers.

The move is to help ramp up food production to mitigate effects of COVID-19 on the agricultural sector. The country’s inability to produce enough food to meet demand during this pandemic will create food insecurity, hence the move is a welcome development.

If the country’s smallholder farmers fail to sustain food production because they fear getting infected, then we are in for a veritable food crisis; which of course wouldn’t be ideal because of the health crisis we are currently confronted with.

Farmers cannot afford to be left out of education and PPE donations that are taking place nearly everywhere, and we believe PFAG should be commended for the crucial initiative. PFAG has been able to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) – including quantities of face masks, Veronica buckets, hand sanitisers, tissue towels, liquid soap, washing bowls, dustbins, detergents and other items for farmers to help protect them against the coronavirus disease.

PFAG, as the umbrella association of peasant farmers, ought to be assisted by corporates and government to ensure food security in these trying times we find ourselves in. This is important, considering the fact that smallholder farmers in the country make up approximately 70% of the estimated 5 million farming households population.

Smallholders in Ghana dominate in the agricultural sector and produce the bulk of food requirements for the nation, and they cannot afford to be sidelined in times like these when Ghanaians are being urged to be their brother’s keeper.

Agriculture contributes to 54% of Ghana’s GDP and accounts for over 40% of export earnings, while at the same time providing over 90% of the country’s food needs. Have we considered the implications of not meeting food needs for the country simply because the pandemic is taking a toll on the population?

If not, then we must think again; because this important constituent of the population must also be catered for.

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