The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on the incoming New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to adopt an Indian government’s example in the agricultural sector, where all peasant farmers have registered with one particular bank which provides them financial support.
According to the association, The National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) in India deals with all manner of farmers irrespective of their political affiliations.
The former president of the association, Mr Mohammed Adam Nashiru made the suggestion at a day’s sensitization and validation workshop in Tamale on farmers’ access to quality.
Mr Nashiru believes that establishing a financial institution along the lines of the one in India will go a long way to address the financial difficulties farmers encounter during the farming season. Mr Nashiru while urging government to pay serious attention to the financial needs of farmers, also urged Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) and other interest groups to advocate for a food security fund, which will take care of all the basic needs of peasant farmers.
Lack of funding, according to Mr Nashiru, derails better ideas from FBOs in the country which in turn affects the efforts of about five million peasant farmers to produce food.
The Vice President of the PFAG, Nana Ameyaw Manu could not understand why the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB ) can’t help farmers and has even deviated from its core mandate and operating as a commercial bank.
Nana Manu said the incoming government needs to direct the bank to assist small holder farmers. “When I was a child my father and other farmers used to be supported by ADB but now no,” Nana Manu recounted. On seeds, Nana Manu said changing seeds can’t help farmers because it is only the soil that fails farmers and not the variety of seeds produced by researchers and seed growers.
The Tamale Metropolitan Director of Food and Agriculture, urged farmers to combine good seeds and good soil since they are both important. Some of the participants raised concerns about the high cost of seeds and urged the seed companies to reduce their prices.
The 2016 certified price from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture indicates that the prices of maize, rice and others are high, and this is a major challenge for most farmers. Some also suggested separating subsidized fertilizer at the input dealers’ shops to avoid pilfering.
Some seed growers also raised concerns about not having access to credit unlike their counterparts in neighboring countries such as Nigeria. Currently the ratio is one extension officer to over 3, 000 farmers.
“Government must reinforce the extension services. Government must engage graduates from agricultural colleges under the youth employment agency to help increase access of farmers to extension officers,” an agricultural production officer, Mr Joseph suggested.
He also charged seed growers to get rid of fake seed growers or seed distributors in the system.
The Programme Officer of PFAG, Mr Charles Nyaaba entreated farmers to demand from the incoming NPP government to fulfill their campaign promise of one extension officer providing services to 500 farmers in the country.