In spite of last year's unfavourable rainfall pattern in the Upper West Region, available statistics from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) indicates that there has been a general improvement in food crops production over the past seven years.
For instance in 2001, 50,755 metric tonnes of maize were produced in the region. This output increased to nearly 60,835 metric tonnes in 2004 but fell to 40,104 metric tonnes in 2007.
Millet increased from 42,013 metric tonnes in 2001 to 54,630 metric tonnes in 2003 but dropped to 43,760 metric tonnes in 2007. Sorghum increased from 92,312 metric tonnes in 2001 to 127,820 metric tonnes in 2004 but dropped to 68,453 metric tonnes in 2007.
Mr George Hikah Benson, Upper West Regional Minister made these known at the Regional Celebration of the 24th National Farmers Day held at Lawra, where 18 farmers who contributed immensely to agricultural development were honoured.
He said because of the drought that occurred at the beginning of the planting season, followed by floods and ended with another drought, resulted in the mass low crops production in 2007.
He said however that in spite of the poor weather conditions, the region is expecting better crop yields this year.
Mr Benson also mentioned that there has been a remarkable improvement of animal rearing within the same period, saying the gains in the livestock industry has been significant.
He said the production of cattle increased from 216,070 in 2001 to 274,198 in 2004 and 396,904 in 2007 respectively.
Mr Benson said goat production also increased from 682,398 in 2001 to 1,170,333 in 2004 and in 2007 the figure rose to 2,086,581.
Similarly, pig production showed the same pattern. Its production rose from 95,066 in 2001 to 156,051 in 2004 and further went up to 256,396 in 2007.
He told the farmers that birds' population stood at 1,371,580 in 2001 and increased to 3,215,948 in 2004 and further rose to 256,396 in 2007.
Mr Benson said these improvements are due to the introduction of exotic breeds, adoption of good farm management practices and the swiftness with which the MOFA authorities attended to disease out breaks.
He told the farmers that agriculture production is susceptible to the vagaries of the weather and appealed to people in the region to reduce their human activities that lead to farmland destruction such as bushfires and the use of farm chemicals without prescription to minimise agricultural losses.
'As we are entering the harmattan season, I urge all farmers and non-farmers alike to desist from bush burning as it impacts negatively on the quality of the environment which is the natural resource base upon which agriculture depends,' Mr Benson said.
He called on chiefs and opinion leaders to educate their subjects on the need to conserve the natural resources by avoiding bush burning and adopting sustainable land use practices.
On the general elections on December 7, Mr Benson called on all registered voters in the region to come out in their numbers to cast their votes in orderly and peaceful manner to make the elections a success.