The Minister of State for Agriculture, Dr. Nurah Gyiele, has attributed the slow recovery rate in government’s financial support offered farmers for the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) to a lack of extension officers.
He made this known on the sidelines of the launch of the 8th Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibition, in Accra.
It will be recalled that 1,398 farmers out of 1,674 in the Nadowli-Kaleo district were unable to pay back part of the 50 percent support government advanced to them during the 2017 planting season.
Out of a total amount of GHS 560, 940.00 million, advanced to farmers nationally, only GHS 333, 584.50, representing 59.47 percent has been recovered, although the farming season had long elapsed.
“The current situation is not because the farmers don’t want to pay,” Gyiele explained.
“We don’t have enough extension officers to go around to farmers to collect the monies and some farmers too, have argued that they have not yet sold the produce, as they are waiting for prices to peak,” he added
About 200,000 farmers took advantage of the programme’s first year of implementation.
In January this year, the Agribusiness Chamber, predicted that setbacks of the PFJ were affecting the recovery rate of the inputs the government had made.
Gyiele noted that, the government is enhancing the capacity to recruit extension officers, which he believes would improve the situation.
He added that, due to the slow repayment, government has decided that farmers should pay the rest of the 50 percent; no more pro-rata but in cash.
Government however intends to recruit more extension officers to forestall a similar situation occurring the current planting season.
In spite of this situation, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in February this year, said farmers registered under the PFJ, made GHS 1.2bn in revenues in the 2017 crop season.
This money was made out of the sale of 485,000 metric tonnes of maize; 179,000 metric tonnes of rice and 45,200 metric tonnes of vegetables.
The money is income that went directly to the farmers after government invested seed capital of about GHS 560 million to provide seeds, fertilizers, extension and marketing services for the participants.
The 2018 annual pre-harvest conference and exhibition is designed at assisting farmers and agribusiness people to expand their businesses before and after harvesting and creating an enabling environment for new partnership to promote the growth of the sector.
Again this would provide the platform for commodity buyers and farmers to establish business relationships and discuss contracts for the harvest of their produce.
The conference and exhibition will be building on the 2017 event in the Northern Region, which will highlight the agro-economic opportunities to an audience of investors, policy-makers, business leaders, academics and finance professionals, among others.
By Joshua W. Amlanu