The Upper West Deputy Regional Minister, Hon Amidu Chinia Issahaku has hinted that government is in the process of recruiting over three thousand permanent agriculture extension officers. Out of the three thousand to be recruited half of the number would be recruited by the Local Government Service and the remaining half would be recruited by the Ministry of Agriculture to educate farmers on new methods of farming and agronomic practices. The Deputy Minister made this remark at the second Upper West Post Harvest losses forum in Wa on Tuesday 29th January, 2019.
Speaking on food security in the region, he indicated that, Government has made food security a priority in Ghana and this has informed government’s Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign which was successfully implemented in the last two farming seasons. He added that, under the One District, One Warehouse initiative, government has commenced the construction of a number of warehouses in the region to help store farm produce and manage post-harvest losses. He said seven Warehouses were under construction in the Upper West Region.
He noted that, in spite of the efforts above, post-harvest losses continue to be a major challenge for farmers across the country, especially the Upper West Region. He therefore called on all gathered to put all hands on deck in the fight against post-harvest losses.
Highlighting on methods of reducing post-harvest losses, Hon Chinia indicated that, our roads need to be worked on since bad roads contributed to post-harvest losses. He elaborated that farmers find it difficult moving their farm produces from rural areas to the market centers or the urban areas in order to sell their produce. Secondly, the roads are so bad that it is sometimes very difficult to get trucks to carry the farm produce. When they even get the trucks, the cost of transportation increases and eventually affects the profit margin of the farmers as explained by the Deputy Minister. Hon. Chinia however indicated the commitment of Government in fixing most of the roads in the region.
He explained that when the government of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa took over as President of this country, the previous government took a loan from UBA against the road fund and that for the last two years, the road fund that comes into the accounts goes to service principal of the loan and the interest. He said steps were being taken to offset the loan so that the road fund which is the major source fund for roads in Ghana can be available to tackle the road networks in Ghana.
Hon. Chinnia added that, Government through the European Union is implementing a project which is affecting all the districts in the region called Market Oriented Project (MOAP). He said the project is to address the poor nature of our roads, irrigation, issues of warehouses, farmer’s orientation and also issues of climate change. He said all these were steps taken to enhance productivity and prevent post-harvest losses in agriculture.
According to the Country Program Manager of SNV Mr Eric Banye, the voice for change program is an evidence based advocacy programme being implemented by SNV Netherlands Development Organization in partnership with the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The funding is for a period of five years spanning 2016 to 2020 and is being implemented in six countries namely, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Indonesia, Honduras and Burkina Faso.
He added that, the Ghana program is focused on three themes. Food and Nutrition Security; Renewable Energy; and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).