The government has been urged to incorporate the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme (PFJ) into national agricultural policies such as the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Programme (FASDEP) to ensure that the PFJ is not scrapped by any government.
This formed part of recommendations of a research conducted into the PFJ to gather concrete evidence on farmers experience with the programme and how to facilitate its effective implementation for the benefit of all.
The research was conducted at Saboba, Karaga, Kumbungu, and Mion Districts and Savelugu Municipality in August, 2018, by the Community Life Improvement Programme (CLIP) as part of the Empowerment for Life Programme being implemented by the Ghana Developing Communities Association, Youth Empowerment for Life and Ghana Friends in Denmark.
The findings of the research were presented by Mr Abdallah Mohammed, Technical Advisor, Food Security, Livelihood and Business Development at CLIP at a dissemination workshop in Tamale on Thursday attended by farmers, input dealers, agricultural extension agents (AEAs) and district directors of agricultural drawn from the districts where the research was conducted.
The research showed that despite some challenges such as access to fertilizer, use of improved seeds, low number of AEAs, and poor access to finance, the PFJ had contributed to increased agricultural productivity since its inception, hence need to incorporate it into national agricultural policies for successive governments to undertake it.
It recommended proper planning by involving all relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and management mechanism be put in place to ensure the effective implementation of the PFJ to ensure increased productivity.
It said majority of the farmers were ignorant of the efficacy of improved seeds, calling for more education and sensitization to ensure that they realised the importance of improved seeds in agricultural production such that they would plant them.
It called on government to furnish the District Departments of Agriculture with the requisite logistics to aid the effective implementation of the PFJ.
It recommended that more personnel should be recruited to augment the AEAs in the implementation process to allow the AEAs enough time to fulfill their mandated responsibility of providing extension services to farmers.
It said "It is needful for the government to roll out policies that will incentivise private banks to give credit to farmers at low interest rates. The 'Ghana Incentive Based Risk Sharing System of Agriculture Lending (GIRSAL)' a value chain financing model aimed at relieving the sector's encumbrance of accessing credit is a commendable step that needs to be sustained and implemented effectively".
It called for "Incorporating significant agritech in the campaign to improve the entire value chain: from seed tracking, land preparation, irrigation, harvesting, storage and packaging can improve production".
It also recommended the need for "Seed growers in Ghana to be capacitated to enable them meet the demand of the programme. Also imported seeds should be authenticated before delivery to beneficiaries".