Farmers in the Upper West region have praised government for introducing Planting for Food and Jobs Programme which has so far engaged more than 700,000 youth since it was launched in 2017.
A cross-section of the farmers from various communities in the region described the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme as a “big success” following its introduction in April last year.
The farmers made the commendation during a tour by Deputy Agriculture Minister George B. Oduro to select beneficiary communities including; Antika Company Limited, Jujeidayiri and Zingu-Gbella Muni in the Region.
Mr Suleiman Abdul-Karim, a 65-year old farmer, who has been farming for close to 20 years told the Ghana News Agency that last year farming was far better than the previous years following the introduction of the scheme and provision of subsidised fertilizers to farmers in the areas.
“Last year experience was quite encouraging for me. Encouraging because I have gotten fertilizer from the planting for food and jobs programme,” he said.
“Earlier on, I used to get about six to seven bags an acre, but last year I got 10 bags an acre even though the army worm worried me, I could have gotten something more than that,” he added.
“As far as I am concerned, the programme is very successful and the impact is that I will be confident in my food supply in the house” he added.
Baalayela group, a local farming group based in Zingu-Gbella Muni, harvested 108 bags of maize from 14 acres of land, according to Madam Leticia Salia, Leader of the group, who recounted their success stories to journalists.
She, however, mentioned that local farmers faced some obstacles that normally threatened production.
“The whole of this village is into maize farming, this is our third year of sponsoring ourselves,” she said: “And this year’s farming is very profitable because of the fertilizer provided to us, we have gotten so much maize.”
“We recorded 11 bags from an acre of land, but last year was three or four bags of maize for an acre.”
The farmers called on government to consider making ploughing of farm lands part of the planting for food and jobs programme since that posed a huge task for farmers to carry.
“Our major challenge is how to plough the land, we do struggle a lot to get a tractor to plough the land for sowing of our seeds. And we call on government and other benevolent organisations to help us with tractors to plough on lands,” Madam Leticia said.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Mr Oduro said the scheme had employed 745,000 Ghanaian youth directly or indirectly since its inception, a development expected to increase grain production in the country.
He praised the Upper West region for handling successfully the fertilizer subsidy programme, saying: “I am happy to announce that Western region and Upper West region in terms of the subsidy we gave to them are leading so far. Upper West has so far paid about 90 percent of what we gave to them followed by Western Region.”
With the issue of government absorbing ploughing fees, he said: “Government is looking at it but for now, we haven’t taken any concrete decision yet.”
“Looking at the success story we are all witnessing here, it will be possible but not now as I stand here”.