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30.12.2005 Regional News

TDC taking farmlands for residential areas- Tema farmers

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Tema, Dec. 30, GNA - Farmers in the Tema municipality on Thursday appealed to the government to intervene and stop the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) from taking their farm lands to construct residential buildings.

The farmers said the master plan of Tema shows that the lands on which they are operating was demarcated specifically for farming purposes and wondered why the TDC was now converting them into residential areas. Mr Ellis Aferi, chairman of the Tema Municipal Farmers Union (TMFU), who made the appeal during the inauguration of the farmers union at Tema said the delay in taking action was likely to throw most of the farmers out of jobs.

The union comprise poultry, fish, livestock and crop farmers. Presently, he said about 70 farmers operating at Adjei Kojo, Santeo villages; Tema Community 25 and Afariwaa farms area have been affected by the TDC's forcible ejection exercise.

He indicated that as agriculture was the backbone of the economy, they found it strange, why the TDC was frustrating their efforts in their contribution towards the growth of the economy, saying, surprisingly the affected farmers were not served with ejection notice. "If all the lands we have are used for building houses, what will remain for the production of food? Why can't poor farmers be left to earn their living without harassment of all kinds? Treating farmers with such contempt cannot be the best, Mr Aferi queried.

He made a further appeal to the government to weed out middlemen from the wheat bran distribution business for them to deal directly with the producers, because they (middlemen) increase the price of the commodity, which eventually shot up the price of farmers' produce. To enable the farmers expand their operations, the union chairman appealed to the authorities to consider them to benefit from the allocation of the Poverty Reduction Fund.

Madam Lydia Kwasitsu, Zonal Seed Coordinator of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in-charge of the Eastern/Greater Accra regions advised the farmers to incorporate the use of manure such as cow dung in place of fertilizer into farming to boost production.

According to her, there was the risk in relying solely on fertilizer because the chemicals in the fertilizer was not good for sandy soil and would not be beneficial.

She entreated them to endeavour to dig boreholes to have water to irrigate their farms, since relying solely on the rains was a risk and could result in low yields.

She asked them to adapt to change and adhere to advice given to them by the Agriculture Extension Officers to sustain agriculture. Dr Kwame Amezah, Director of the Extension Services of the MOFA said the Ministry has instituted a Farmers Based Organization Development Fund (FBODF) to support farmers in their activities, adding that, 20 districts have been selected for a pilot project. Under the pilot project, selected farmers would be trained in agricultural techniques, while other benefits like the furnishing offices of farmers' union executives among others would be offered with contributions from the fund.

He commended the farmers for coming together to form an association and advised them to maintain a united front by sharing labour and market their produce together.

The nine member executives has Mr Ellis Aferi as chairman with Mr J. E. N. Agbashie as his vice, Mr Anthony Nukpenu, the secretary, Madam Maragaret Kani, his vice, and Mr Christopher Aboagye, as the treasurer. The rest are Mr Asante Agbo, financial secretary, Mr Emmanuel Nagadzi, organizer, while Mrs Vida Loh and Mrs Alberta Brown are executive members.