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Regional News of Saturday, 21 June 2014

Source: graphic.com

Farmers get training centre

A one-stop centre consisting of a warehouse, a training centre, an agriculture input shop, a farmer’s library and a community learning area, has been inaugurated at Atonkor in the Jasikan District of the Volta Region.

The project, established at a cost of GH¢50,000, will help enhance extension services in modern agricultural practices to farmers as a means of increasing crop production in the area.

In addition, the training centre will become a focal point from where staff of the extension services division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other relevant bodies will hold meetings with smallholder farmers or farmer-based organisations to teach modern trends and technologies in farming required to improve food production and livelihood.

The project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and Africare Initiated, a farmer organisation with offices at Hohoe, Jasikan and Kadjebi districts. The centre was set with funding from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Clement Kofi Humado, observed that the project was an important model that ought to be replicated across the country to help curb post-harvest losses and enhance food security in the country.

He said the nation was once secured in food production, however, due to post-harvest losses which had become a major problem facing agriculture, the country was now unable to meet her food targets.

He said as part of measures to boost food production, MoFA would create mechanisation centres equipped with farm implements from where farmers could have access to tractors and other farming implements to expand their farms. In addition, he said the ministry would make available improved seedlings and planting materials to improve upon crop production.

He encouraged farmers in the three districts to enter into the production of mangoes as it was currently a lucrative business and thrived well in the area. The warehouse will serve as a farm produce aggregation point that will allow for easy access by purchasing entities such as Nestle Ghana Limited, World Food Programme, market women and individuals.

By having a one-stop-centre, farmers will have a common voice in negotiating for pricing and measuring. The library has in stock agricultural learning materials written in simple language and designed with illustrations for farmers to easily understand so they can improve upon their knowledge in farming.

The Country Director for AGRA, Dr Kwesi Ampofo, disclosed that about 27,000 smallholder farmers had been connected to the facility. He said AGRA was in discussions with MoFA and Africare to extend services to other districts in the Volta Region. He said about 100,000 farmers in the region were expected to be reached with new farming technologies.