President John Mahama has told Ghanaian farmers that continuing to rely on rainfall for food production is just like laying a wager with their investment.
He said despite the huge contribution of the agricultural sector to Ghana’s GDP, farmers in the country are still confronted with numerous difficulties which need clearing – among them is the reliance on rain for farming.
“…Let me quickly acknowledge that the sector is still confronted with numerous challenges and these challenges include over-reliance on rainfall, which in some cases becomes erratic.
“If we continue to rely on only rain-fed agriculture, we will continue to conduct agriculture like a gambling business,” Mahama said.
“Because in years when the rainfall is inadequate,” he explained, “you are bound to lose as a farmer. In years when the rainfall is abundant, you will have abundant production.”
Speaking at the 30th National Best Farmers Day Awards ceremony at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western region on Friday December 5, 2014, President Mahama said the Government has plans of investing in irrigation towards reducing Ghanaian farmers’ reliance on rainfall for their farming.
“…We must bring more land under irrigation, which is one of the visions that government has and is actually undertaking to irrigate more land in this country.”
Apart from farmers’ over-reliance on rainfall for farming, the President also identified other difficulties mitigating against the agricultural sector in the country.
“We also have inadequate mechanised farming. Our agriculture is still characterised by hoes and cutlasses. We must increase mechanisation and modernisation of our agriculture. We also have a low use of technology. Our technology uptake in agriculture is low and that is one of the factors affecting productivity. So we need to increase the uptake of technology in agriculture.
“We also have limited access to financial services. The banks are not willing to lend to farmers. If a farmer and a trader go to any bank, they are very quick to approve the loan to the trader but very hesitant to approve the loan for the farmer. And that again is one of the banes of our agriculture. Let me congratulate the Agricultural Development Bank for devoting a good percentage of their portfolio to helping our farmers. And I ask other banks to emulate what the Agricultural Development Bank is doing,” he said.
The President added: “We also have inefficient post-harvest management. We end up losing a lot of our produce because we are not able to manage the harvest properly. If it is rice, we don’t handle it properly and so our farms could get burnt or we could lose some of the rice by inefficient harvesting techniques. If it is maize, we are not able to preserve the maize properly and so they become contaminated by aflatoxins or they are invaded by weevils that destroy the quality of our maize.”