Ghana’s quest to reduce the importation of rice by increasing local production has received a major boost, following the purchase of 520 specialised rice tractors by government for onward distribution to rice farmers in the country.
The tractors, comprising 220 Cabrio Compat tractors and 300 Global Multipurpose mini tractors, were made in the Czech Republic and procured by government with a €10million interest-free facility from the Czech Export Bank, arranged by Knights A.S. of the Czech Republic for the government of Ghana.
An agreement to that effect was signed in April 2018, when a delegation from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture led by Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Akoto Afriyie, visited the Czech Republic.
The Cabrio Compact Tractor and Global Multipurpose Mini Tractor are designed and conditioned to help triple rice production by allowing rice farmers to harvest and thresh their ripened rice on the field. They also adapt to wet and muddy areas of rice fields.
The Director of the Agricultural Engineering Services Directorate (AESD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr. A.K.B. Deyang, made this known during media tour in the Central Region to demonstrate how the tractors work. Mr. Deyang said the rationale behind the project is to help boost government’s ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme for farmers.
Throwing more light on the tractors, he said: “Most of tractors are of higher horsepower, expensive and useful only for large-scale farmers. The farmers from these developing countries, however, are of small or medium scale and cannot afford such large-energy tractors.
“There was therefore a need to solve this problem by importing into these countries Cabrio Compact Tractors and Global Mini Tractors, which are simple, effective and affordable – and can help alleviate ordeals small or medium scale farmers go through in their daily farming activities/operations,” Mr. Deyang said.
He added that village infrastructure projects and agricultural mechanisation can only succeed in developing countries “when peasant farmers are introduced to smaller machinery rather than nurtured to handle bigger machinery”.
“With these tractors, which are easier to maintain and service, a gradual transformation and nurturing of machine maintenance culture will be created as an introductory stage for larger machinery and extensive agricultural mechanization,” Mr. Deyang said.
Capabilities of the tractor
Explaining the tractor’s effectiveness, the Chief Executive Officer of Knights A.S, Dr. Karl Laryea, said two types of the tractor – CABRIO and GLOBAL – are highly multipurpose with a very wide range of active and passive accessories. With the CABRIO Compact Tractor, he said, it is intended for medium-scale farmers or small-scale farmer associations/cooperatives with a cultivated area of about 20 hectares.
“The GLOBAL Multipurpose Mini Tractor is a simple technology, and the first step to agricultural mechanisation for small scale farmers with a cultivated area of 2 to 3 hectares,” Dr. Laryea added.
According to Dr. Laryea, a market survey conducted in sub-Saharan African countries revealed there was a great demand for the Compact and Mini Tractors, and “this is attributed to the fact that there are only few companies in the region engaged in solving existing problems of the small and medium scale farming industry”.
In terms of achievements made so far, Dr. Laryea informed that Knights, A.S. of the Czech Republic can boast of the excellent results from test trials of the technology in many sub-Saharan African countries apart from Ghana. He mentioned Oyo State of Nigeria; Taraba State of Nigeria; Guinea Conakry; Liberia; Republic of Benin; Burkina Faso; Uganda; Angola; D.R. Congo; Zambia and many more. Most importantly, the Republics of Ghana, Benin and Liberia have ordered over €35 million worth of the technology from the year 2005 to date. The technologies are mainly widely used also in Central and Eastern European countries, but have been modified and conditioned to meet the challenges of Africa’s hard terrain.
Knights A.S. of the Czech Republic has technical experts who train local technicians on how to use and maintain the technologies, in both the Czech Republic and the country of delivery. Before delivery take place, the experts are dispatched to the delivery site to assist in transferring the know-how on the technologies; as well as setting up a network system to enable future supply, maintenance and supply of spare-parts for after-sales services.
Knights A.S. is represented in Ghana by BIGA International Limited, located at Kaneshie Estates, Accra. BIGA International Limited is responsible for servicing and the supply of spare parts for after-sales services of the CABRIO and GLOBAL Multipurpose Tractors supplied from the Czech Republic. BIGA International Limited also has a Tractor Training School at Aburi, where they teach operators and farmers how best to use and maintain the tractors in order to achieve maximum life span as given by their manufacturers in the Czech Republic.