UWR farmers hail PFJ initiative

Farmers in the Upper West Region who got enrolled onto the first year implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative have hailed it as a laudable intervention which must be sustained.

According to them the unprecedented yields from their farms this year despite the invasion of the fall armyworm, underscored the need for the initiative to be sustained and expanded if poverty was to be eradicated in the region.

The farmers who made the call during a field assessment tour of the first year implementation of the programme in the region by a Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture in-charge of Horticulture, Mr George Oduro Boahene said, their toil could not have been rewarded better than the yields they got from their farms at the end of the season.

Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is one of the numerous government initiatives rolled out in the agricultural sector to boost food production towards food security and poverty alleviation.

As part of the programme, beneficiary farmers were supplied with subsidized fertilizer, improved seeds, agricultural extension services and other agricultural inputs.

Nearly 30,000 farmers comprising individual farmers and Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) across the region were enrolled onto the programme and most of them cultivated crops such as maize, sorghum and rice.

The total land cultivated under the programme in the region was 52,000 acres with an average yield of 624,000 bags of crops cultivated and out of which 80 per cent constituted maize.

Some of the farmers who spoke to the Ghanaian Times said but for the invasion of the fall armyworms and the erratic nature of rainfall for the season, their yields would have been higher than what they got.

According to Madam Leticia Salia of Zingu, a resident for 42 years in the Wa Municipality, last year was the best season for her in terms of her agriculture activities and had never regretted enrolling under the PFJ.

She said prior to registering under the programme, the highest amount in terms of yield from an acre farm for her, had always been three maxi bags, however, last year, due to the improved seeds and the timely supply of fertilizer and extension services, she harvested a total of 11bags.

“Even though the armyworm worried me, I managed to harvest three times more than how much I get from my farm every year. This farming season that I joined the programme, I managed to harvest 11 bags from one acre of land instead of the three bags or sometimes the two bags I used to get,” she emphasized.

Madam Salia who is also a mother of three said as a result she was able to raise enough money to pay for the school fees of her wards two of whom were at the basic level and the eldest who was now at the agriculture college in Kumasi.

In spite of the success, she recounted that some of the major challenges that confronted her was the high cost of ploughing, the erratic rainfall pattern and the invasion of the fall armyworm.

She said farmers would be appreciative if government could address the issue of tractor services and construct irrigation dams as part of the programme.

On his part 65year old Abdul-Karim Suleman said farming under the programme was very encouraging and would therefore expand his farm from three acres in the coming season to six acres this farming season.

Mr Sulemani who is also a retiree said, he had been farming since 1987 and could attest to the fact that the programme was pro-poor and needed to be extended to bring on board more farmers to benefit.

According to him in 2016, the total amount of maize he harvested on his three acre farm was only three bags, however, last year with the support from the PFJ; he managed to harvest a total of 10bags per acre.

The Managing Director of Antika Farms, Mr Antik Abdulaihi said his farms recorded an average of 15 bags per acre and was expecting to recover about 15,000 bags of maize by the end of the season.

He said so far he had recovered 10,000 bags and was sure that before the new season starts, he would have recovered everything in full.

Mr Abdulaihi who is also an aggregator said even though the first year of the programme had been successful it came with some challenges which included the poor rainfall pattern and the army worm that government would have to address going forward.

The Deputy Minister on his part expressed satisfaction with the first year implementation of the programme and pledged that government would take onboard all the information it had gathered and infuse it into the next phase of the programme.

Mr Boahene assured that government was very concerned about the issues of irrigation and other factors that affected agric sector and soon would roll out other interventions that would complement the PFJ to ensure that the sector was revived.

From: Cliff Ekuful, Zingu




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