ADRA Assists 10,000 Farmers In Northern Region To Improve Yield

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Ghana, with funding from Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, is assisting 10,000 farmers in eight districts of the Northern Region to cultivate rice, soybean and maize on commercial bases. The three-year project, which started in October 2012, aims at increasing crop production and productivity, improving incomes of smallholder farmers and agro-dealers and enhancing their capacities through technology transfer for improved crop yields. Mr Isaac Kankam-Boadu, Project Manager of ADRA Ghana, made this known on Monday in Tamale during the opening of a two-day training of trainerís workshop for agricultural extension officers in the Northern Region on Integrated Soil Fertility Management. He said the assistance, which comes in the form of input support, capacity building and linkage to marketing centres, would benefit farmers in the Central and West Gonja, Bole, Sawla-Tuna-Kalba, East Gonja, Yendi, Zabzugu Tatale, and West Mamprusi districts. The selected farmers would buy inputs on credit basis and pay back in kind after harvesting while marketing would easily be made available to them. Mr Kankam-Boadu said the overall goal of the project was to contribute to poverty reduction noting that crop yields in the northern parts of the country was generally low due to the continuous cropping without adequate nutrient replenishment to the soil and poor agronomic practices. He said even though many technologies had been uncovered by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and other research institutions, farmers had not been able to adopt the new technologies and appealed to government to ensure transfer of such knowledge to farmers for the desired impact. Dr Wilson Dogbe, Head of Rice Research for Development of SAR, said the Institute had developed various competitive rice varieties for the country and mentioned the Gbewaa Rice, Nabogo Rice, Katanga Rice and Tox 3107 as some of the varieties but expressed worry that poor agronomic practices had not helped in achieving the right production yields. He suggested the need for more agricultural extension officers to be employed by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) since the current numbers of the extension officers were reducing at an alarming rate due to governmentís embargo on employment. Dr Dogbe said the embargo on MoFA employment had created difficulties in technology transfer from research scientists to farmers, a situation, he admitted, could spell doom for agricultural productivity in the country. He appealed to the government to provide more inputs and equipment to enable more farmers to venture into commercial agriculture to improve the food security needs of the country.