The Bongo District Director of the Department of Agriculture, Mr. Edgar Dra has acknowledged government’s relentless efforts and programmes towards the development and modernisation of Ghana’s agricultural sector stressing that, the theme for the 34th National Farmers’ Day “Agriculture: Moving Ghana Beyond Aid”, further indicates the importance and seriousness the Nana Addo-led administration places on agriculture.
Delivering his welcome address at the district’s farmers’ day event held in Beo-Akayonga on Friday, Mr. Dra noted for instance that, the successful implementation of the flagship “Planting for Food and Jobs” [PFJ] Programme which is in its second year in 2018, had impacted significantly on the yields of farmers in the area. He said the programme had also reduced the production cost of crops such as maize, rice, soy beans, pepper and tomato while there had been an upward trend regarding the area cropped during the farming season.
The Agric Director also disclosed that though his Department was understaffed, Agric extension services were effectively rendered to farmers across the district during this year’s farming season. He mentioned for instance that his staff conducted regular field demonstration exercises during which Conservation Agriculture, Sustainable Land Management and Agronomic Practices among others were exhibited to farmers as many of them bought into these best practices.
In his keynote address, Bongo District Chief Executive [DCE] Mr. Peter Ayinbisa Ayamga observed that Ghana was a country well-endowed with assorted natural resources and that good management practices coupled with tailor-made investments and well-planned agricultural initiatives can actually propel Ghana’s development beyond aid. He noted that in times past, Ghana’s agric sector was a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product until it started declining due to limited attention and lack of investment by Government over the past few years. He revealed for instance that in 2013, a growth rate of 5.7 percent was recorded and that this dropped to 2.8 percent in 2015.
According to the DCE, the trend began rising again from 2016 as the current Government injected lots of resources into the sector through the implementation of special programmes such as the 1-Village 1-Dam initiative and the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme which distributed thousands of subsidised fertilizers and high-yielding seed varieties to farmers across the country. Other interventions included “Rearing for Food and Jobs” and “Planting for Export and Rural Development” among others. Consequently, the sector’s performance increased from 3.0 percent in 2016 to almost a three-fold figure pegged at 8.4 percent in 2017.
He assured farmers that Government will continue to increase its commitment to the agric sector so that citizens and other business-minded people who invest in the Agric sector will stand a better chance of recouping their investments which then should encourage even many more people to venture into farming, animal rearing, fish farming, bee keeping and other forms of agribusinesses.
Mr. Ayinbisa gave further details on the PFJ programme revealing that, the Bongo District in 2018 received 21,000 coupons for NPK fertilizers and 3,000 coupons for the supply of UREA fertilizer while 282 bags of maize seed, 150 bags of rice seed and 300 sachets of tomato seed were also received. He disclosed that a total of 4,213 farmers benefited from the programme this year.
He stated that government had secured financial clearance for the employment of 2,000 agric staff to fill various vacancies and that in a short while to come, the challenge of inadequate agric staff will become history. Meanwhile, the district’s Department of Agriculture recently received a brand new Nissan pick-up vehicle to aid its work. He also disclosed with joy that, Bongo was the first district in Upper East to begin benefitting from the 1V1D initiative as four of such dams had been constructed in the Ayopia, Kuyelingu, Kabre and Asabre communities while some additional four were to start soon.
The DCE commended the Bongo Rural Bank for donating two bicycles and a 32-inch NASCO LED television set for addition to the prize package for the farmers while he also thanked Petasco Enterprise, Simple Prince Enterprise and the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese for their individual support for the event.
A 49-year old man, Mr. Roland Anaba from the Akulyoo community who cultivates crops and rears livestock, emerged the District Best farmer for 2018. His prize package included a brand new engine-propelled tricycle, a gas burner, radio set, pair of wellington boots, a knapsack sprayer and wax print materials among others.
Other awardees included the First Runner-Up District Best Farmer – Mr. Azure Akaara from Adaboya; Second Runner-Up District Best Farmer – Mr. Mohammed Asobisa from Anafobiisi while Mr. Kizito Mberigo from Vea was adjudged Best Livestock Farmer. Mr. Nbabila Akunaba from the Dua community was awarded the Best Physically Challenged Farmer.
Source: Peter Atogewe Wedam (ISD)