On the streets of Accra and at its satellite markets, it’s visible that there is a bumper harvest. Plantain, tomatoes, onions, garden eggs,cassava, yam and fruits including water melons are all in abundance. From the Agblogbloshie, Kaneshie, Mallam Atta to Kasoa Market customers are spoiled for choice.
Even guarded beans and ‘kelewele’ sellers who are not particularly generous with their plantains now give liberally.
Those who loved ‘fufu’ made from cassava but had to contain their ‘fufu’ consumption because of how expensive cassava was in years past have now found their ‘fufu’ appetite thanks to the abundance. Wives and men who know their way to the market have stated since the harvest, holding a GHc5 note can fetch you a dose of different items enough to prepare a meal with.
So what exactly accounts for the overflow of food crops?
Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto had predicted the country will see increased production of the five main crops being under the pilot phase of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme being rice, maize, sorghum, soya bean and then selected vegetables. GHc700 million was allocated for the programme in the 2018 budget.
Despite armyworms wreaking havoc on crops and destroying farms, Dr. Afriyie-Akoto envisaged with supplied chemicals to various parts of the country to fight the pests; and chemicals in stock to cover more than 250,000 hectares of lands, the pests couldn’t derail government’s plan of a bountiful season.
That confidence expressed months ago also led to processes put in place for a structured and sustainable marketing arrangement that will benefit farmers and make agriculture shine once more.
The government, the minister rendered sought to do things differently by fertilising the ground for the private sector to engage in the purchasing of produce while it liaises with private entities in the implementation of the Commodity Exchange, Grains and Legumes Development Board and the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) as intermediaries.
The Food and Agriculture Minister noted about 185,000 out of 200,000 farmers had been registered under the Food and Jobs programme for the first two major crop seasons in the south and northern parts of the country.
On the issue of crops going bad because of lack of proper storage facilities, Dr. Afriyie-Akoto mentioned the renovation of about 300 abandoned COCOBOD warehouses to serve the purpose costing some GHc25 million.
Another innovation perhaps accountable for the bountifulharvest is the National Service Scheme (NSS) farm project where the scheme deploysnational serve personnel to operate farms. Reports suggest the NSS farm projectat Ejura in the Ashanti Region produced over 70,000 bags of maize with the Regional NSS Director disclosing plans to support government’s Free SHS and the School Feeding programmes.
However a farmer and cultural activist; Abeku Adams discounts the Planting for Food and Jobs allusion as reason for the plentiful harvest.
For years, Mr. Adams submits there’s been harvest around this time of the year because the major rains start around April-May while the minor rains come in September for which reason the ancestors called these periods ‘Esusow’and ‘Obɛsɛ/Esusow Ketseaba’, respectively.
He adds August marks the beginning of the harvest for the cultivation done in May so the Fante elders called August ‘Dzifoo’ which translates to ‘eat and be full’ allowing for plantain, cassava, vegetables and fruits to abound this time being the natural order.
“Availability of food has not been our major problem; storage and preservation have been,” he stressed questioning, “has the government within two years built modern storage facilities to store food to last for 20 years? How many hectres of land have been put under mechanised irrigation to produce all year round?”
So whom do you credit this season’s bountiful harvest to? Government or nature?
By: Michael Eli Dokosi/goldstreetbusiness.com