More than 40,000 hybrid oil palm seedlings are ready to be distributed to farmers in the Assin South District under the government’s ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development’ (PERD) programme.
Additionally, over 5,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the free seedlings, extension services and subsidised fertiliser distribution, to enable them expand their farms into huge commercial farms.
Mr Jacob De-Graft Sackey, Assin South District Director of Agriculture, who disclosed this to the GNA, said the assembly was determined to help farmers embark on massive cultivation of oil palm, because they had comparative advantage.
He told the GNA that his office envisioned a higher participation of farmers in the project in view of the awareness created in the district, adding that though the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) project had taken off smoothly in the district, some farmers were yet to commit totally, because they had defaulted in previous programmes.
As a way to eliminate the likelihood of similar occurrences, he gave the assurance that the needed structures had been put in place to recover all debts to facilitate the sustenance of the project and whip up farmers’ interest.
He said a total of 1,382 farmers registered to take part in the project in 2018, but only 379, made up of 324 males and 25 females, benefited.
The department also distributed a total of 1,667 bags of NPK, 1,150 bags of URIA fertiliser to farmers in the district at subsidised prices by the government.
Mr. Sackey said the project also provided vegetable seeds for interested farmers, especially the youth who want to venture into agriculture, and encouraged farmers to go into cash crop farming for local processing to add value, as well as for export, to put more money in their pockets.
He outlined some challenges to include inaccessible road network, lack of motorbikes for extension agents, farmers’ attitudes, post-harvest losses, and marketing challenges among others, but underlined the terrible road network as the biggest setback that must be addressed if the government’s vision of modernising and transforming agriculture was to be achieved.
He lauded the government for formulating agriculture policies like the “Planting for Food and Jobs”, expected to benefit the citizenry, saying it was a practical demonstration of the government’s commitment to revamp the agricultural sector to catalyse national development.