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29.07.2004 Regional News

Damgme East farmers to reverse post harvest losses

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Ada (G/A), July 29, GNA - Fifty farmers in the Dangme East District on Wednesday began a two-day capacity building workshop on post harvest handling to reverse the perennial huge losses of food crops. Over 40 per cent of tomatoes and other perishable crops produced in the District go bad because most of the farmers lacked adequate knowledge and information on post harvesting handling perishable produce resulting in low prices.

The workshop under the auspices of the Adventists Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), would expose farmers drawn from 30 communities to techniques in conservation of agricultural produce, integrated pest management strategy and technical assistance.

Mr Akwasi Agyemang, ADRA Field Project Officer for the Greater Accra Region, said post harvest losses in vegetables and maize represented a huge challenge that ought to be overcome if Ghana wanted to make agriculture profitable and competitive.

He said poorly timed harvesting; handling of harvested produce and lack of storage facilities had often made farmers desperate and left them frustrated.

"If post harvest issues are tackled right from the onset of production there will not be too much glut in the market to warrant low prices but rather farmers would have a fair share of their produce and continue to work hard for increase productivity," Mr Ageymang said. He announced that ADRA with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) about two years ago started a programme to improve food security for over 2,500 resource-poor farming households in the Greater Accra Region.

Mr Agyemang said, this year, ADRA was going to assist more than 100 clients in the Region to construct 100 narrow maize cribs and provide credit to 13 farmers' groups to procure corn mill and cassava graters. He said a natural resource component of the programme saw the planting of more than 500,000 seedlings on the banks of the Densu River and its network tributaries to protect the river from drying up so that over two million people could continue to rely on it for a sustained source of water.

Mr Kofi Tetteh Plaher, District Chief Executive of Dangme East, said the District was using about 90 per cent of its resources to support agriculture this year.

He urged the participants to be amenable to change and be ready to adopt new ways of doing things to increase and protect their production.

Mr Plaher appealed to ADRA to consider the possibility of constructing irrigation facilities using the water from the Volta Lake to reduce the effects of persistent lack of rainfall in the area.

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