Rice farmers in Volta worried over smuggling of farm inputs
Rice farmers in the Afadzato South District of the Volta Region have expressed concern over the difficulties they go through to access to farm implements such as combined harvesters.
According to the farmers, the smuggling of farm inputs to the Republic of Togo remained an issue that should be tackled with seriousness, as farmers struggle to get inputs like fertilisers, Kia vehicles are seen during the rainy season transporting the subsidised fertilisers across the border.
According to them, efforts by the government to promote agricultural activities, particularly rice cultivation, through its flagship programme, Planting For Food and Jobs, would be a mirage if drastic measures were not put in place to ensure that farmers get access to inputs like subsidised fertilisers, which were expensive.
Speaking to The Chronicle at Golokuati in the Afadzato South District, a Spokesperson on behalf of rice farmers in the area, Mr. Frank Erskine Beidu, explained that the government actually has sound policies that when effectively implemented would go a long way to boost the activities of farmers and increase their yields.
He stressed the need for the government to put in place a team to monitor officials whose duty it was to ensure the effective distribution of these farm inputs, which are sold to their counterpart farmers in Togo.
According to him, he was surprised when he travelled to the Republic of Togo and saw farm inputs in shops with the inscription “Ghana Cocoa Board strictly not for sale” on containers containing chemicals meant for cocoa farming.
He alleged that subsidised fertiliser, which cost GH¢40.00, had the price increased to GH¢80.00, and appealed to the government to put in place measures that would ensure that fertiliser and other subsidised farm inputs, including seedlings, were provided directly to the farmer.
Touching on poor rainfall in 2020, Mr. Beidu said many farmers who cultivated between three and 50 acres of rice were left in debt.
Mr. Beidu noted that when most of the farmers, particularly those who cultivated rice, decided to take up other businesses, it would pose a danger to efforts being made by the government to increase local rice cultivation to reduce importation of foreign rice.
According to Mr. Beidu, farmers were most of the times frustrated during harvest periods, explaining that a farmer who books for a combined harvester at GH¢300.00 at the district office of Food and Agriculture Minisry would have to wait for one or two weeks.