Some farmers in the Northern Region have appealed to the government to consider adding the rearing of livestock to its Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) agricultural policy.
They said the vegetation of the region made it a strategic location for the rearing of livestock, for which reason it was important for support packages to be made available to the livestock farmers in the area.
A farmer, Mr Abubakari Sayibu, said the government’s PFJ initiative had raised the expectation of farmers for a bumper harvest and called for the same support to be extended to livestock farming.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic at Sang, the Mion District capital, last Friday, he said the rearing of livestock could be given a major boost if the government provided technical support to the farmers.
"We want the government to include special support packages for farmers who want to rear goats, sheep, cattle and other animals because the livestock sector has great potential in this part of the country," the 52-year-old farmer said.
Another farmer, Mr Mohammed Shahadu, added that the call on the government to include livestock in the next phase of the agriculture policy was because the Northern Region had comparative advantage in that aspect of agriculture.
The visit to the Mion District and other parts of the region by the Daily Graphic was meant to ascertain the initial impact of the PFJ policy on farmers in the area.
The PFJ initiative
The first phase of the revolutionary agriculture policy of the government focuses on supporting farmers with subsidies to acquire fertilisers and seeds to grow maize, soya beans, rice, sorghum, as well as vegetables such as onion, pepper and tomatoes.
The programme started this planting season with the supply of quality seeds and fertilisers to farmers at a highly subsidised price across the country.
The Director of Agriculture in the Mion District, Mr Abednego Abosore, who led a tour of some of the farms at Saang, said about 800 farmers had been enrolled and were benefiting from the PFJ project.
He described the project in the area as highly successful, stressing: “The farmers who initially did not show interest in the policy are now invading the district agriculture office daily to be part of it because of the success story so far.”
Fall Army Worms
During a visit to some of the farms in the district, there were clear indications that the farmers were expecting a bumper harvest.
The maize, soya beans and rice plants were blossoming, much to the excitement of the farmers.
There were, however, visible signs of a massive attack on the plants by Fall Army Worms as some of the plants were still recovering.
It was obvious that the worms had been brought under control; the big cobs of corn gave ample testimony of that.
Mr Abosore explained that the attack by the Fall Army Worms on the plants was overwhelming in the district but added that the timely intervention of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through the supply of appropriate insecticides had brought the situation under control.