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31.01.2005 Regional News

Utilise micro-credits on agric subsidies - traditional ruler

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Wa, Jan. 31, GNA - A prominent traditional ruler in the Upper West Region has suggested to the government to consider utilising funds usually earmarked for micro-credits on the provision of subsidies on farm inputs to boost agricultural production.

Kuoro Buktie Liman, Paramount Chief of Gwollu Traditional Area in the Sissala West District said since the core of the poor depended on agriculture for a living, such a measure would be more beneficial to majority of them than the paltry sums of money given to only few of them as loans.

Apart from the very low recovery of such loans, he observed that because such funds came from government sources, they were more often used to serve political interest groups to the exclusion of majority of those it was intended for.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Wa, he noted that there has not been a phenomenal growth in agricultural output in recent years due to the high cost of farm inputs, which had made farming unattractive as a result of which many people had turned to buying and selling of goods in urban centres.

Kuoro Liman, who is also the President of the Regional House of Chiefs and National Chairman of the Cotton Farmers Association, said the number of farmers engaged in cotton production had been dwindling yearly in recent times due to the high cost of production of the crop.

He welcomed the proposed President's Special Initiative on Cotton and Sorghum but observed that the initiative on cotton stood in danger of failing if it was launched without any serious efforts to address the issue of subsidies on inputs.

According to him, most of the cotton farmers were operating at a loss, resulting in their constantly moving from the cotton fields to the cultivation of less laborious and less input-dependent crops like groundnuts, soya beans and sorghum.

He appealed to the government to assist cotton-farming groups to purchase tractors in order to relieve them of their over-dependence on the cotton companies who plough fields at very high cost to the farmers.

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