THE Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called on the government to increase investment to seed growers.
The group in a statement ahead of the 34th National Farmers Day last Friday explained that local seed producers and farmers were plagued with numerous constraints ranging from poor resources for research institution to provide foundation seeds; limited irrigation facilities; poor transportation; lack of storage facilities and difficulty in accessing credit to support seed production and distribution.
“It is very refreshing to have this year’s Farmers Day themed around the President’s vision of ‘Agriculture, Moving Ghana Beyond Aid’. This is in line with our continuous call to use agriculture as the key to unlock the economic potentials of the country and wean itself from the clutches of donor dependency,” the statement said.
The group also called on the government to review the fertiliser subsidy programme by reducing the amount of money put in subsidising chemical fertiliser.
Instead, funds which would be saved should be used to support organic fertiliser and sustainable agriculture which is economically prudent, environmentally friendly, gender sensitive and climate resilient.
“Apart from cost to the tax payer, there is evidence of the effect of using too much chemical fertiliser and environmental implications and economic consequences of over reliance on importation since the manufacturing companies are outside Ghana,” the statement said.
Criteria for the award
The PFAG also urged the organisers of the Farmers’ Day celebration to reflect on the criteria for selecting award winners.
According to PFAG, over the years, the awards are mostly skewed in favour of large-scale farmers especially at the national level.
“Smallholder farmers and women, who constitute majority of farmers in Ghana; providing over 80 per cent of the food and raw materials are always awarded with hoes, machetes, knapsack sprayers, fertiliser and at best, bicycles and motorcycles, while their counterparts (large-scale farmers) who are the minority producing less than 10 per cent of the food are awarded with packages such as: houses, pickups, tractors and combine harvesters.”
“It must be noted that while large-scale farming is by choice in developed countries, in Ghana, it is by privilege, gender and inheritance. For instance, many women have no choice of expanding their farm size due to land tenure system and difficulties in accessing credit for being a woman,” the statement said.
It would, therefore be unfair for such a woman who has a passion for agriculture to miss the opportunity of winning a house to a man who is privileged to inherit resources, land and also has access to credit due to availability of inherited collateral.
They, however, commended their indomitable farmers especially smallholder farmers who work under difficult conditions to provide food and raw material for domestic consumption and export in the midst of escalating constraints.
The association revealed its gratefulness, particularly to women smallholder farmers who constitute majority of smallholder farmers and are on many occasions, sidelined in the area of agricultural support.
Introduction of GMO
According to PFAG, the call for introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to salvage the local seed industry is only a strategy by multinational seed companies and their Ghanaian agents to control seed production and rip the patent right of a single seed purchased by farmers.
They added that accepting GMOs in Ghana was not only contrary to the President’s vision of developing Ghana Beyond Aid, but would further worsen the poverty level of smallholder farmers who would have to buy expensive seeds every year; kill our infant seed industry and take the progress chalked up in the agriculture sector a step backward.
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is an apex Farmer-Based Non-Governmental Organisation in Ghana with the mandate to advocate pro poor agriculture and trade policies and other issues that affect the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.