Graphic Business News

Assessment of mechanisation of farms in the country

By: Daniel Ofosu Dwamena
Category:
Although the government is investing much in farm machines, agricultural mechanisation is not just the use of tractors.
Although the government is investing much in farm machines, agricultural mechanisation is not just the use of tractors.

Empowering farmers to increase productivity, improve crop quality and access reliable markets is critical to addressing post-harvest losses and enhance employment opportunities for the youth in the county. 

While the government has put in place mechanisms and programmes to address these challenges through the initiation of its flagship programme, “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ), much transformation has not yet been seen by some farmers in agricultural mechanisation in the country. 

The PFJ is a good start but there is the need for more governmental intervention with farmers rather than the government propping up the sector as a whole. 

As the country is rapidly shifting from the manual method of harvesting rice through labour to a more intensive mechanical harvesting technology, it has become necessary for the government to introduce machines in the harvesting of farm produce.

This will help prevent post-harvest losses and create more job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youth in the country.

Although the government is investing much in farm machines, agricultural mechanisation is not just the use of tractors. It also includes the exploitation and management, including the selection and replacement of mechanical facilities and equipment for field production, water control, material handling, as well as post-harvest operations.

It is sometimes disheartening to hear the huge sums of money Ghana spends annually on importation of foreign produce, such as rice, while there is a huge potential for its production in the country.

This can be achieved if the government works with higher targets aimed at revamping the agricultural sector with lots of machines. 

Certainly, with enough equipment, effective monitoring and evaluation strategies, the sector will see a new milestone in agricultural production.

That strategy will lead to more large-scale land consolidation and huge productivity, instead of keeping family or community-owned and operated farms. 

Rice farming in the Volta Region

The Daily Graphic recently reported that some farmers in the Afadzato South, Hohoe and Kpando districts in the Volta Region were appealing to the government for the provision of combine harvesters to harvest their rice.

According to the report, about 2,000 acres of rice farms that were cultivated by over 100 farmers under the PFJ programme in these districts were bound to go waste within two weeks.

That, it said, would happen if the government did not provide the services of combine harvesters on time. 

Additionally, the harmattan which is at its early stages is likely to intensify within the next few days. It poses a threat of farms getting burnt through bush fires. These 2,000 acres rice farm lands of Afadzato South, Hohoe and Kpando districts are no exception.

Harvesting methods before PFJ

Before the introduction of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme into the district, farmers in the region were engaged in small-scale rice farming, therefore the manual method of labour for harvesting their produce was made possible. They cannot engage in such laborious method for larger farms.

Rice is a staple food in every household, giving the indication that it could be very lucrative when given the right attention. For a region with many swampy lands, the production of rice should be one of the viable investments for any investor. 

Despite the huge potential, rice cultivation has been the least exploited in the country.

Recommendation

It is worth noting that the government has responded to the plight of the farmers according to a later report by the paper. 2,000 acres of rice farms cannot just be left to go waste.

This should not end here. The government is urged to provide any needed assistance to make the project a success.

Considering our yield per hectare for most crops, especially rice, we are currently way below that of our neighbouring countries. 

We commend the government for the introduction of the two-fold PFJ and the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP). They are necessary and vital policies to facilitate food and nutrition security, especially post-harvest losses that have long been a challenge in the agricultural sector.

However, there are loopholes that need to be filled for the greater achievement of these policies. 

It is evident that the government’s efforts to mechanise farming and make agriculture attractive to the youth has not yet been materialised. 

The government must, therefore, go back into history and assess how the production model worked so that the mechanisation programme is complemented in all pertinent areas for guaranteed success.