The Western Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture has facilitated the implementation of agricultural programmes and projects at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to improve the livelihood of farmers and productivity while ensuring food security.
The department has collaborated with 14 MMDA’s and has facilitated 211 Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) in completing 48,917 farms, as well as home visit to reach a total of 153,997 farmers between January to August 2022.
During these visits, the AEAs guide the farmers through the various elements of the value-chain from pre-planting through agro-processing, to packaging and marketing of products.
“Also, our collaboration has resulted in a total of 573 awareness engagements with 14,739 community members (12,030 males and 2,709 females) in Environmental Management with focus on indiscriminate disposal of non-biodegradable waste in waterbodies,” Mr. Patrick Akowuah, Western Regional Director of Agriculture, mentioned these in an interview with the B&FT.
Again, he said the sector has conducted district sensitisation on commodity market linkage among value chain participants, leading to the formation of Agribusiness WhatsApp platforms in all the 14 MMDAs to promote internal trade among members.
He said the Women in Agricultural Development (WIAD) Unit has trained 786 women agro processors in value addition, packaging and labelling of rice and cassava produce.
This, he said, has resulted in increased skills in value addition, access to market, reduced post-harvest losses, and subsequently increased farmers’ income, among others.
Management of fall army worm (FAW)
Mr. Akowuah added that the department has also facilitated the Trainer of Trainees (TOT) for districts key staff who in turn trained farmers in scouting and management of the FAW.
“Our Plant Protection and Regulatory Services unit regularly supplies chemicals to farmers free of charge to apply as preventive measures against the worm” he said.
Rearing for Food and Jobs
Under Rearing for Food and Jobs, he said the regional office has, so far, facilitated the supply of 400 breeding pigs to 100 farmers in four MMDAs; namely: Ahanta West, Amenfi East, Amenfi West and Tarkwa Nsuaem.
He indicated that the objective for this initiative was to increase beneficiaries’ knowledge and skill in pig management, pig prolificacy and the ability to compete in the pig market.
Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD)
On Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD), he said the department collaborated with the Tree Crop Development Authority to allocate tree crop seedlings (coconut – 130, 000, rubber – 100, 000 and oil palm – 30,000) to the districts for onward supply to farmers this year. This, in the future, will serve as raw material base to feed the 1D1F.
Additionally, he said these farmers were linked to sources of subsidised inputs such as maize, rice and assorted vegetable seeds, and fertilisers under Planting for Food and Jobs.
“We regularly carry out monitoring in all districts to ensure effective implementation of planned agricultural activities, as well as facilitate effective coordination among stakeholders in agriculture,” he said.
Benefit of agriculture
According to Akowuah, the sector ensures food and nutrition security and provide job opportunities.
He further said agriculture serves as the main source of raw materials for some industries.
The regional director mentioned some of the challenges as: inadequate staff, limited budgetary support and logistics, unfavourable land tenure arrangements, and untimely supply of agro inputs.
The others, he stated, are inadequate storage facilities, scarce credit facilities for value chain participants, poor road network across farming communities, as well as inadequate media relations.
Innovations and advice
He affirmed that there has been a lot of innovations such as climate smart technologies, availability of mobile application to make information readily accessible, livestock farming technology, digital farming, among others; and this has made agriculture to become very attractive.
“Farming is a pretty, remarkable and rewarding job; individuals and groups can farm all-year round with dedication and passion. It is rewarding to know that the products you grow helps to feed the world. Work for yourself; running a farm is the ultimate entrepreneurial opportunity, and it builds life-long friendships with other farm youths,” he added.
According to him, the sector improves nutrition and food security, advance standard of living, reduce poverty, as well as create a lot of job opportunities for the youth.