The role of agriculture in accelerating the economic progress and development of any country cannot be overstated.
However, in Ghana, the agricultural sector has suffered some neglect down the years.
Not a lot has been done to transform the sector from its present state to one which produces more yield and high income for farmers and the country as a whole.
In Part IIof our three-part series ahead of Farmers Day on Friday (November 4), Emmanuel Tokunbo Darko (CEO, Babaoo Foods Limited) and David Asare Asiamah (Founder and CEO, AgroMindset) look at ways to transform Ghana’s current economy into a high agricultural production one.
For David, infrastructure development in the agricultural sector is a key element needed to change the economic fortunes of Ghana. “An enabling environment for agricultural transformation requires good roads and railway. Together with transport, communication network, power connections and water supply are also important.” he acknowledges. “But those are not the only things required: health, education and other socio-economic facilities must also be provided in these farming communities.” On the issue of storage facilities, David admits that it is crucial, particularly in villages, to lessen post-harvest losses. “Key stakeholders must facilitate planning and construction of storage facilities in rural areas to farmers don’t see their produce rot,” he adds.
Improvement of Research and Extension Services
The role of extension officers in the transformation of the agricultural sector cannot be overlooked, according to Emmanuel. “The role of the extension officer is very important,” he admits. “Officers should educate farmers on storage, processing, irrigation, land management, farm mechanization and erosion control, among others. When this is done, it will enable farmers increase their farm production at reasonable costs and be able to market their farm produce to a wider community.”
Emmanuel also acknowledges that investing in research and extension facilities should be a top priority. “We need to provide adequate funding to enable research and extension services function well in providing required services.”
Investment and Finance
Another critical tool for the growth of the agriculture sector, for David, is access to finance. “The shift from subsistence to commercial agricultural production requires funds. Therefore governments and all major agriculture stakeholders need to improve access to credits for farmers investing in agricultural activities by establishing agricultural banks and strengthening micro-finance institutions,” David says.
Input Supply and Environmental Protection
Emmanuel asserts that stakeholders need to make available farm machinery and implements such draught ploughs, power tillers and tractors to enhance improvement in cultivation, especially in rural areas. “There should be timely supply of appropriate farm inputs to farmers to ensure that they improve productivity and increase their income. But this is dependent on key stakeholders reviewing prices for these implements and machinery so that it is affordable to farmers at all levels.”
Access to Markets and fair prices
Emmanuel contends that farmers need to be able to get their produce to markets and receive equitable price treatment for any sort of transformation to happen. “Many farmers only have the produce but don’t have the means to market their produce themselves,” he says. “They have to rely on middlemen who show up and give them both the price and the buyer. They have no information and no alternative market. We have to close that information gap between the farmers and the market.”
In the final part of Farmerline’s three-part series, we look at how the youth can transform agriculture through ICT.
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