Stakeholders in the private sector, is calling on the government of Ghana to support them in the drive to enhance food security in the country. The government of Ghana imports about one million tons of rice annually to complement what local farmers produce in the year. Rice has become a major staple food in Ghana following increased in rice production and consumption over the years. Undoubtedly, Ghana has a great deficit in rice supply and makes up for the shortage through imports. The country import 85% of the rice consumed from Thailand, Vietnam among others and produces only 15% locally.
It is in view of this that, the Executive Director for the Shinkaafa Buni Rice Farmers Association, Mr. Samuel Kofi Sarpong is urging government to strengthen its ties with the industry players to scale-up the production of rice in the country. He said there are no enough raw materials in the country to augment the production of rice. He observed that, there is no enough paddy as raw material for the processing firms.
He said for instance, Avnash put up 500 metric tons capacity mill, which was supposed to produce about 180, 000 metric tons per annum. However, he lamented that for three years they couldn’t produce anything because the raw materials were not in existence.
He said even though literature has it that over 180,000 tons are produce in the north annually; he said that in reality it is not so. He stated in order to meet the needs of Ghanaians, they realize that, backward integrated model will solve this problem.
He indicated “so what we did was to establish Shinkafa Buni as a backward integrated model to marry the science and technology aspect of agriculture to the experience of farmers”. However, he noted that, farmers in Ghana has the technical knowledge but are unable to acquire the necessary inputs; as far as fertilizer, chemicals, the right ones are concern.
According to Mr. Sarpong, there are no seeds in the system. He bemoaned that, the seeds farmers claim they are using for production are grains and not seeds. “What we doing is that, we assemble all the seeds in the system and reanalyze them, subject them to scrutiny and we realize that only 18% of the seeds available past the test. So this tells you that for the past years, we have been doing the wrong thing”.
“We’ve been planting rice using grains and not seeds. This 18% seeds were procured and redistributed to these farmers. So is garbage in, garbage out, if you get the seed wrong you get the whole quantity and quality wrong. So these seeds were supplied to the farmers in the first year” he stated.
That notwithstanding, the Shinkafa Buni Executive Director said the technical expertise of the farmers also matter and therefore they had to sent 14 extension officers to help the farmers establish their fields. He revealed further that, another problem farmers are challenge with is the quality of soil, especially land preparation.
He explained that, some farmers just plough and broadcast the seeds and thereby run the harrow on it. He indicated that some farmers don’t even harrow on their fields. “So virtually, we realized that the wrong things are being done. So we have to reprobate and level the land” he lamented.
Mr. Samuel Sarpong indicated one of the activities earmarked at Shinkafa Buni is research. He said “we’ve realize that the soil have been subjected to diminishing return because they are not given out what they are supposed to give out and the soil is a living thing, is not dead, people treat the soil as dead, soil is not dead, soil is a living thing”.
“So what we trying to do is to analyze the soil that these farmers work on. We have realize across the rice valleys that the soil acidity is high, our knowledge shows that the PH is around 4, when the PH is around 4, technically, your N, your P and your K are not taken. So our farmers keep applying fertilizer, NPK but at the end retract in the soil. So this research has given us the clue that we shouldn’t be dumping the fertilizer on the soil, we have to understand the soil dynamics” he explained.
He however urged government to improve the infrastructure and equipment in the agriculture sector of the country. He said there are enormous valleys across the country which he observed have all been abandoned. “Sometimes we feel that sadness in us that, because we have the resources that we should be next exporters and not importers because the resource we have here is unprecedented” he said.
story by: Mohammed Gadafi, email@example.com _northstarfmonline.com