Rice production in the Northern Region soared despite the challenge posed by Covid-19, says the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA). The food balance sheet for the region, recorded a surplus of 63,682 metric tons of rice in 2020 from an initial 44, 967 metric tons in 2017. However that for maize; another important staple that also feeds the poultry industry, reduced from 50,938 metric tons in 2017 to 13,247 metric tons. The decline in maize surplus is attributable to the high export demands across the borders.
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer at the Regional Directorate of MoFA, Felix Oteng who disclosed this at a joint stakeholders sector review meeting held in Tamale, noted that; “the mobilization of maize by buyers in neighboring countries, where Ghanaian farmers prefer to sell their produce across the border, to Burkina Faso, is a worrying trend that calls for urgent policy action including stepping up security to check against this.”
Mr. Oteng was giving an overview of the Planting for Food (PFJ) and Rearing for Jobs implementation in the Northern Region, in the face of Covid-19. According to him, more farmers are being reached with improved seeds. “In addition, farmers are also realizing the need for soil adjustment using fertilizers to improve fertility of the soils for better growth,” the M&E Officer stated.
Mr. Oteng said although areas under cultivation has also increased particularly rice and soya alongside vegetables cultivation, poor input distribution, inadequate market channels and agric-mechanization challenges were needs that required urgent government intervention and support.
Chief Director at the Northern Regional Co-ordinating Council, Alhaji Alhassan Issahaku, in a statement said hitherto, less than 11 percent of farmers were using improved seeds with less than 20 percent of farmers using fertilizers, but the PFJ had brought about a reversal and generating a lot of interest. Alhaji Issahaku said the review was therefore necessary to strategize and enhance the programme with newer challenges like the covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier in her welcoming address, the Regional Director of Agriculture, Madam Hawa Musah said the directorate remained focused on increasing production to meeting the food and nutrition needs of the region. The joint stakeholder review, she added affords a platform to share lessons and build synergies towards making things better within the agriculture value chain.
The stakeholders review meeting organized under the auspices of MoFA, was instituted in 2008, as part of the mechanisms for the harmonization and improved sector policy dialogue and coherence and is aimed at reaching a common view among stakeholders such as MoFA, research institutions, MMDAs and CSOs on important milestones in the sector in the preceding year.
This year’s joint sector review was under the theme; “consolidating the gains of PFJ in the wake of Covid -19.”
Story By: Nelson Nyadror Adanuti