Government's flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PfFJs) programme has benefited 428,200 farmers in the Bono Region, so far and improved food productivity marginally.
The beneficiary farmers were 252,691 males and 175,504 females, however, the 2010 Population and Housing Census (2010 PHC) projected the 2021 farmer population in the region at 361,979.
Mr Dennis Abugri Amenga, the Bono Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), disclosing this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani, said most of the beneficiary farmers were into maize, yam, plantain, rice, cocoyam and plantain production.
In a breakdown, the Regional Director said 130,483 hectares of maize farms cultivated in 2019 yielded 335,984 metric tons, while in 2020 a total of 326,238 metric tons yield was obtained from 144,994 hectares of farms in the region.
Cassava farmers cultivated 72,011 hectares in 2019 and 73,783 hectares in 2020 and produced 1,679,893 and 1,731,383 metric tons respectively, while 665,680 and 689,661 metric tons of yams were produced from 40,558 and 41,748 farms in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
More so, the region produced 14,423 metric tons of rice from 5,843 hectares of rice farms in 2020 and 10,968 metric tons from 4,344 farms as well as 437,629 metric tons of plantain from 29,730 farms in 2019 and 488,728 metric tons from 31,743 hectares of plantain farms.
Cocoyam production in in the region, however witness a downward trend with the region producing 140,428 metric tons from 19,920 hectares of farms in 2020 and 141,818 metric tons from 20,194 hectares in 2019.
Mr Amenga explained the PfFJs had distributed many fertilizers, agro-chemicals and farm inputs to the beneficiary farmers to expand their farm work, while others had gone into commercial farming as a business entity.
He explained though there were no significant effect of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) on crop production in the region in 2020, the closure of international borders, markets for fumigation and lock downs of some cities caused panic buying resulting in price hikes in April.
On the other hand, border closures and restriction on movement within the country negatively affected the poultry industry (eggs and birds sales), and affected farmers income.
Mr Amenga mentioned late supply of PfFJ input to registered input dealers, inadequate fertilizers, during minor seasons and poor quality seeds in some districts (maize and rice) as some of the challenges confronting the implementation of the programme in the region.
Other challenges include inadequate registered PfFJ input dealers to serve farmers in remote areas and inadequate supply of vegetable seeds.
Another challenge, Mr Amenga indicated was recurring outbreak of army worm in the region, but added with prompt intervention of the government, the directorate had managed to bring the situation under control.
He said with the support from the government the region was able to recover all the 6,259 hectares of farms affected by army worm in 2018, and 26, 981.0 in 2019 and 29,113.0 hectares in 2020.