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04.10.2008 Regional News

Farmers select 10 top ranking commodities for Upper West

By gna

– Peasant farmers in the Upper West Region have selected 10 top ranking commodities as the list of commodities for the region that are
of great economic importance to the people.

The farmers have therefore called on the government and research institutions to make finances and appropriate information available on the commodities to farmers to promote food security.

The commodities are sorghum, millet, cowpea, ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats), yam, groundnuts, cassava, pigs, poultry (guinea fowl) and sheanuts.

Food security, economic importance, comparative and competitive advantage as well as percentage of farmers involved in the cultivation of the commodities and the environmental impact on the commodities were some of the criteria used in the selection of the commodities

The farmers selected the commodities at a Regional Research-Extension-Farmers Linkage Committee (RELC) planning session in Wa.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) jointly organized the forum for stakeholders, comprising extension officers, researchers, processors, traders and bankers to deliberate on issues concerning farmers' production constraints, especially those on roots and tubers crops.

The forum offered them the opportunity to prioritise researchable problems based on agro-ecological zones, determine the type of research to be conducted to find solution to each prioritized problem and develop an action plan for implementing proposed solutions.

Naa Bawa Seidu, President of the Upper West Seed Growers Association and
a spokesman for the farmers, said the region has the potentials of producing to feed the nation and for export.

He said that could only be achieved if farmers were given the needed credit support and the provision of appropriate research knowledge on the listed commodities.

He mentioned the inadequate technological know how, high cost of farm inputs, land preparation, pest control, post harvest losses and feeder roads as well as marketing centres as some of the challenges hampering food crop production.

For example, “The importation of rice and poultry productions are some disincentive to farmers, he said, pointing out that the valleys for the production of rice were available, but what was lacking was the political will to make things work.

Naa Seidu appealed to the government to allow agricultural training institutions to take more admission of students to improve the farmer – extension officer ratio to provide the necessary technologies to farmers to help increase food production.

Mr. Peter Asibey Bonsu of RELC said agriculture had been the main stay of the Ghanaians economy, providing among others, more than 60 per cent of employment and about 40 per cent foreign exchange.

He said, these not withstanding, the livestock industry had been able to provide only less than 20 per cent of the protein needs of the people.

Mr. Asibey-Bonsu called for a serious need to support the livestock industry that had been beset with numerous constraints; top among them being the high cost of feeds and drugs in poultry as well as dry season feeding of livestock in general.

He said the lack of improved breeds in cattle, sheep, and goats was yet another major setback to livestock industry and that needed to be addressed to enable the sector to contribute to agriculture's expected growth rate of 6-8 percent under the Gross Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS).

Mr. K. M. Setsoafia, National RELC Coordinator in-charge of Research, called for effective collaboration among researchers, agricultural extension officers and farmers for the dissemination and utilization of appropriate technologies and knowledge that scientists provided.

He said information and knowledge had become major sources of wealth and prosperity and urged young scientists not to be satisfied with knowledge they had gained through laboratory work, noting: “This is not sufficient for farmers to accept or adopt to improve their livelihoods”.

He therefore advised young scientists to always involve farmers in their works and findings to develop effective ways of controlling pest that had been found to be a number one enemy of farmers.