Prioritize 'Agriculture Extension Services' In Ghana
Agricultural extension simply revolves around application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education, though does not have any universal definition .
This service can also be referred to as a behavioral science that applies the latest scientific and technological innovations .
The extension service was organised and delivered in a variety of forms in Ghana, in 1997, with the ultimate goal of increasing farmers' income and production.
The mission statement of agriculture extension service in Ghana states "Work with the regional and district administration to ensure that extension services contribute in an effective and efficient way towards the social and economic development of Ghana ".
Extension services encompasses a broader range of communication and learning activities organised for rural people by educators from different disciplines including agriculture , agricultural marketing , health and business studies .
This service is mainly undertaken by extension specialists , alternatively subject matter experts usually employed as scientists and whose subjects range from agriculture, life sciences, plant and animal health, economics, engineering, food safety, pest management, veterinary medicine, together with other allied disciplines .
Rapid growth in population has triggered sharp increases in demand for agricultural products.
This justifies the need for Ghana to lay emphasis on the need for massive extension efforts to modernise farmers' outlook and make the profession more enterprising other than from "Hand - to - Mouth" through adoption and adaptation process .
I Bring To The Limelight , Some Essentials of Agricultural Extension.
1. Promotes agricultural productivity
2. Increase food security .
3. Improves rural livelihoods
4. Promotes agriculture as pro-poor economic growth .
5. Help farmers in farm planning , decision making , timely input usage , storage , standardized processing and marketing.
6. Ensures supplies and services through increase in production capacity .
7 . Improves occupation throughout family and community life at large .
8 . Responsible for overseeing agricultural technology diffusion .
In India , agricultural extension efforts have made significant strides towards the sector ( agriculture ) development .
Agriculture indeed , is the mainstay of the Indian economy .
I bring to Ghanaians the following interesting impacts of agriculture on the Indian economy just by reason of agriculture extension services .
It sustains over seventy percent ( 70 % ) of the populations , contributes 35.6 % to gross national products and adds thirty-nine percent ( 39 % ) as its share towards exports .
What is the situation in Ghana ...???
In Ghana , smallholders farmers dominate the agriculture sector , accounting for between seventy percent ( 70 % ) - eighty percent ( 80 % ) of the total labour force in the sector .
Available statistics from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture ( MOFA ) indicates that , the national farmer - extension ratio stands at one (1) Agricultural Extension Agent ( AEA ) to one thousand five hundred ( 1,500 ) farmers ( 1 : 1,500 ) .
Furthermore , according to the programme officers of the "Social Enterprises Development Foundation of West Africa" ( SEND Ghana ) , and " Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana" ( PFAG ) , their reports indicated a ratio of one (1) Agriculture Extension Agent - three thousand ( 3000 ) farmers i.e ( 1: 3000 ) in Ghana .
Per this classified data , if authorities continue to neglect extension services in agriculture , Ghana's quest to modernise agriculture would remain an imagination and not the reality .
Have we now realized as a country , the huge gap we have left between farmers and researchers / policy analysts ...??
How can we develop the sector having left this sensitive service out of the sector ...???
I urge all our agriculture stakeholders and all who have a say in agricultural development in this productive geographical location called Ghana , to rise above political urges and make our agriculture sector , a huge contributor of Gross Domestic Product ( GDP ) to the economy of the country , without which our economy will continue to suffer the evils of this sensitive extension system .
This move depends on us but no nation else ..!!!
This move demands behavioural / attitudinal change of negative perceptions about agriculture in Ghana ....!!!
This indeed is my plea to the good policy makers of the agricultural sector .
Long Live Africa!
Long Live Ghana!
Long Live Agriculture!!!
BEDZRA OSCAR KOMLA
UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION , WINNEBA ( CAGRIC )
BSC. AGRICULTURE SCIENCE EDUCATION