Some selected vegetables farmers in the Central, Greater Accra and Volta regions have recently received training in integrated pest management (IPM) to enable them cultivate quality and healthy products for the export and local markets.
Held on the theme ‘Integrated Pest Management for Quality Vegetables Production ’, 10 nucleus farmers selected from various farmers’ associations in each of the three regions were taken through a three-day training of trainers (TOT) course on effective IPM. The participants cultivate chili pepper, tomatoes, okra, eggplants, cucumber and others. In the end, the 30 trained farmers are expected to roll out the training to cover 300 more farmers within the intervention areas.
The training was organized by the Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Ghana (VEPEAG) and supported by GIZ, the German Agency for International Cooperation, in partnership with Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).
At Baduatta in the Gomoa East District of the Central Region, the farmers were taken to a tomatoes greenhouse farm and an open field to put into practice what they learnt. At the VEPEAG head office in Cantonments, Accra, in the La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly, the farmers underwent similar exercises.
The TOT program for the vegetable farmers in the Ketu North District of the Volta Region occurred in the Assembly hall with fieldwork at Maphlix Trust Farm and a visit to Fafa FM, a community radio station. Similar programs are expected to be organized in the other regions soon.
The series of training programs has been occasioned by the ban on vegetable exports from Ghana by the European Union (EU) due to failure to comply with EU phytosanitary laws. The EU ban was lifted on 31st October, 2017.
“There were a lot of interventions by PPRSD [Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate] which led to the lifting of the ban. Greater part of the problem had to do with pests and disease management. VEPEAG approached GIZ to help train their farmers on integrated pest management, which is part of the association’s mission.
Miss. Lydia Baffour-Awuah, an agricultural expert with GIZ, said in an interview at Buduatta.
“The farmers are used to resorting to chemicals but we believe IPM is the best approach. The use of chemical should be the last resort after all other interventions have failed. We are concerned with the health and safety of the farmers and consumers. We need to educate farmers on the proper use of chemicals,” Miss. Baffour-Awuah stated.
Mr. Charles Mintah, a food safety and agribusiness consultant who was the trainer, informed the farmers that pests were the main cause of low yields on the fields of the farms, so all efforts should be made in minimizing their occurrence. He taught the farmers how to undertake credible and effective scouting to detect pests and diseases on their farms.
“Economic threshold should be considered after monitoring. That is the level at which the pest can cause economic damage to farms for which reason controls must be applied,” Mr. Mintah said.
“We discourage the application of chemicals. We want you to adopt alternative methods to chemicals and minimise, as much as possible, the use of chemicals on farms. Physical controls and Biological control whereby the farmer will use predators and other organisms that do not harm crops but attack the pests on their farms,” he emphasised.
Mr. Joseph Tontoh, the President of VEPEAG, said “the export business is complicated so the training was organized so farmers can be abreast with new trends in pest management. Farmers should adopt optional methods of managing pests such as IPM and minimize the use of chemicals, but when necessary, use the right pesticides.”
Mr. Tontoh said MOFA was already helping the members of VEPEAG through the PPRSD. He appealed to the government to create an enabling environment for the farmers to produce quality vegetables. “Modern pack houses are required since the producers cannot export without them. The government should assist farmers to get credit,” he added. He thanked GIZ for funding the program and hoped the support for VEPEAG will continue.