Lack of bridges in Bong District threaten success of PFJs programme

Mr Evans Opoku Bobie ,Brong Ahafo Regional Minister

Mr Evans Opoku Bobie ,Brong Ahafo Regional Minister

Lack of bridges in some communities in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region have been identified as one of the major factors threatening government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs),  programme.

 

The situation, apart from making it very difficult for Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs) to reach out to rural communities to offer extension services to the farmers, it is also making it difficult to cart farm  inputs across to  the Bongo and Bolgatanga areas.

 

Transporting farm produce to the marketing centres to sell is yet another challenge.

 

The absence of a bridge on the Dua-Kantia River is one such example.

 

The Akayonga bridge for instance,  used to facilitate market access for agricultural produce  and other livelihood activities in the BeoNayire,  Tankoo, and Dua –Kantia communities as well as trade among markets such as; Akayonga, Bongo, Kongo, and Dua markets but has broken down.

 

The challenges of lack of bridges were made known during the dissemination of the research findings at a sensitisation forum held at the Tankoo community in the Bongo District on Thursday.

 

The dissemination of the findings which was conducted by the TankooNoyine Cooperative Farmers Society, Nayire vegetable farmers, Tankoo vegetable farmers in the district in February 2018, was on the topic “Construction of bridges on Akayonga and Dua-Kantia Rivers to facilitate market access for agricultural and other livelihood activities for Beo-Nayire and Tankoo communities in the Bongo District.”

 

Funded by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund and its Development partners DANIDA, USAID and EU, it brought together chiefs, assembly members,  women and youth groups, members of TankooNoyine Cooperative Farmers Society,  Nayire vegetable farmers, Tankoo vegetable farmers, Staff of Ghana Education Service, opinion leaders and party functionaries

 

The research pointed out that aside the broken down bridges affecting agriculture productivity, the situation was also affecting health and education delivery as they impede people from accessing health care at Bongo, the district capital and also prevent school pupils from attending school.

 

“As many as 92 per cent of the farmers have difficulties in transporting large quantities of their farm produce to the market centres due to the lack of bridges that link them to the market centres. The postharvest losses as a result of the poor road network in the areas is 15.6per cent, 20.1 per cent, 17.7 per cent, 15.6 per cent, 6.5 per cent for millet, maize, rice, groundnut and cowpea respectively,” the research stressed.

 

It revealed that there are no input shops in any of the affected communities and noted that what was compounding the problem was the inaccessible nature of the communities to reach to where farm inputs are sold.

 

Whilst the study revealed further that the Community Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP) in the year 2006 collaborated with the Bongo District Assembly to construct a foot bridge on the Akayonga river which subsequently collapsed in 2014, the assembly had   captured the Akayonga river bridges in its action plans for 2016 and 2017  to construct a foot bridge at a cost of GH¢105,000.00, but construction work had still not started on the footbridge since 2016.

 

The research further reveals that, no attempt had ever been made to construct the Dua-Kantia river bridge which was a major route used by traders to trade at the Akayonga and Bongo markets as well as staff of Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Food and Agriculture who move to the communities on daily basis to deliver services.

 

The stakeholders at the sensitisation forum, who confirmed the reality of the findings, stated that the construction of the bridges would not only help boost farmers’ income and the revenue of the district assembly, but would also help address the challenges confronting the efficient health and education delivery in the district.

 

 

The Co-ordinator of the TankooNoyine Cooperative Farmers Society, Mr Asebila Alfred Nyaapika, explained that, they were compelled to seek funding support from the BUSAC Fund to empower the farmers in the area to advocate for the construction of the bridges as was done when in 2012 they got funding support from BUSAC Fund and successfully advocated the mechanisation of high yielding boreholes for dry season farming for the Tankoo and Beo communities.

 

The Monitor of BUSAC Fund, Mr Vincent Subbey, who commended the stakeholders for their high turnout and the maximum level of participation, called on them never to give up but to use tact and diplomacy in their advocacy activities in getting the projects worked on by the duty bearers.

FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, TANKOO

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