The Mechanized Agricultural Service Providers Association (MASPA), providers of tractor-hire services to small-scale farmers for land preparation in the Northern Region, has announced a new price index for this year’s farming activities following the hikes in prices of goods and services.
According to them, the increase in their prices will help generate some revenue for maintenance costs and expansion of their businesses to serve farmers.
The new prices per acre, which take effect from the new farming the season, see ploughing cost increase by GH¢10 to GH¢80; harrowing also increases by GH¢10 GH¢40 while combined servicing jumps by GH¢50 from GH¢250 to GH¢300.
Government has since 2007 been providing subsidized agricultural machines to individual farmers and private enterprises established as specialized Agricultural Mechanization Services Enterprise Centres (AMSECs) to offer the services.
The initiative eases the stress farmers go through with using the traditional way of clearing land before cultivation and harvesting, which affects their income due to the high cost of labour needed on a particular farm. With the mechanized service, it takes a day to clear or harvest the crops depending on size of the field.
Chairman of MASPA, Alhaji Abdul Salam who disclosed this to B&FT in an interview, noted that the increase in fuel prices has affected everything – and hence the adjustment. “As a service provider, we feel the plight of our gallant farmers and that is why we don’t normally charge much; but the current situation has compelled us to do it to avoid the collapse of our business that serves as our source of livelihood,” he said.
He said the average price for a drum of diesel now costs GH¢1,200 as compared to an amount of GH¢1,000. “We went around the filling stations and realized the average for a gallon is GH¢24 and a drum is 50 gallons which gets you to GH¢1,200. So, at least we should also move forward small in order to break even or make a little profit,” he said.
Another reason for the price increment, according to the chairman, is the cost of spare-parts in the local market; saying a complete overhauling kit used to cost between GH¢1,900 and GH¢2,000 as at last year – but it has been increased to GH¢2,100 this year. “As service providers, if we want to remain in business, certainly and definitely there must be a little price adjustment,” he added.
He noted that tractor-hire services can play important roles in transforming smallholder agriculture; but with heavy subsidies on big and costly tractors, the subsidy policy can distort supply chain development – adding that as a result, many better-suited and lower-cost machines are unlikely to be introduced onto local markets.