About 200,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) programme in the Upper West Region this year, Mr Huudu Abu, Crop Officer at the Department of Agriculture in the region, has hinted.
“The number increased from 117,000 in 2018 to 162,621 in 2019 hence, the target is not far-fetched,” he explained.
He said in spite of the changes in the payment plan of inputs accessed by the beneficiaries, which demands that the farmers pay the entire fee for the inputs at subsidised rates from the dealers before accessing them, the number of beneficiaries increased last year.
Mr Abu said these at Wa on Thursday during an interview with the Ghanaian Times on the performance of the PFJs in the region since its commencement.
The PFJs was launched on April 19, 2017 at Goaso in the Ahafo Region as one of the flagship programme of the government. The programme seeks to promote food security and jobs through the production of crops with subsidised inputs such as improved seeds and fertiliser as well as the provision of warehouses to store farm produce for a longer period.
The Crop Officer who doubles as a member of the implementing team for the PFJs explained that, not only did the beneficiaries increase, the land mass also expanded from 98,291.60 hectares in 2018 to 260,703.40 hectares in 2019.
Based on the success rate, Mr Abu expressed confidence that beneficiaries this year could hit 200,000 as they recorded bumper harvests after enrolling under the programme.
“Before the PFJs, average harvest for a farmer on a maize farm was between 1.2 and 1.5 metric tonnes, representing five to six bags of maize per acre, but under the PFJs, farmers are doing 2.2 metric tonnes per acre, and depending on the weather, some farmers harvest as much as 2.5 metric tonnes per acre, representing 10-12 bags. So the results are impressive and attractive,” he said.
He explained that, in 2017 there were challenges with recovery of debts owed, after farmers had harvested their crops, as the policy then allowed farmers to pay for 25 per cent of the inputs accessed and settled the rest later.
Mr Abu added that “the farmers did not pay after harvesting, so we increased it to 50 per cent payment before and the rest of the 50 per cent paid thereafter, but we had same challenges, hence the introduction of the payment of full fees at subsidised rates before accessing the inputs.”
He said warehouses in Bussie, Hain and Bulenga would be completed by the end of the year for farmers to store their farm produce and sell them in bits for higher income.
FROM LYDIA FORDJOUR AND RAFIA ABDUL-RAZAK, WA