The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has appealed for government to roll out part of the stimulus package targetting smallholder farmers, so as to revamp agriculture production and to help improve food security.
“The credit facility, as part of government’s intervention to cushion the small-scale businesses, cannot be accessed by the farmers because the criteria required does not qualify them to access it,” Head of Programmes and Advocacy at PFAG, Charles Kwowe Nyaaba said – adding that smallholder farmers do not register their businesses and also do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), which are the basic criteria needed to access the fund.
He said this at a stakeholder forum held in Tamale, the Northern Region capital, for Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) drawn from the Tamale Metropolis, Sagnarigu and Savelugu Municipalities.
The training, organised by PFAG, was to equip participants with knowledge on the transmission, symptoms and safety precautions for COVID-19, so as to enable them also educate smallholder farmers on the disease as part of their extension activities to help curb its spread.
The forum was also used to support the Department of Agriculture with some Veronica buckets, hand sanitisers, tissue paper and liquid soap, as measures to help safeguard the extension officers.
He said lack of support affects the activities of smallholder farmers who provide food to the nation, saying “once their activities are affected, it will have impact on their output; which will lead to a reduction in food production”.
Touching on AEAs, he said there is a need for government to include them in the front-liners package, since they also serve as doctors who aid farmers adapt to best agronomic practices to enhance food security.
“Front-liners in the health sector have had their share of the national cake, the hospitality industry has also had its share – but as much as all are happy with government’s approach in handling the COVID-19 issue in terms of distributions of items, we are not happy when it comes to the agriculture sector; we are being neglected,” he said.
“For us, we see all extension officers as front-liners because they deal with farmers, and farmers are the majority population in this country. They determine our survival, and our fear is that when they are affected the agricultural sector is at risk,” said a board member of PFAG, Hajia Alima Sagito Saeed.