FARMERS in the southern sector of the country have been advised to plant their crops between now and mid-May to take full advantage of this year’s farming season.
According to a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Yaw Effah-Baafi, it was likely that this year’s main rainfall period would not go beyond late August.
“To be on the safer side, planting should be done by late April and end by the middle of May,” he stressed.
He said reports from the Ghana Meteorological Agency indicated that this year’s rains would not be as good as last year’s in terms of aggregate.
He said some farmers who planted some crops during the first rains in March this year have had most of the plants withered due to lack of water.
The deputy minister, however, said the government had plans to ensure that the country had enough foodstuffs and so it had acquired 60,000 hectares of land under the Youth-in-Agriculture (YIA) programme for crop cultivation.
He said the lands had been acquired in all the 170 districts of the country through the assistance of the district assemblies, traditional rulers and landlords, adding that a number of youth had been registered to engage in the project.
Mr Effah-Baafi stated that last year, 14,000 hectares of land was targeted under the programme and said 12,500-hectare cultivation was achieved.
He said the ministry was in the process of providing tractor services for the farmers and providing them with improved seeds, fertilisers and other chemicals to aid them.
He said in addition to irrigation projects to provide water for all-year-round farming, those lands were acquired mostly along rivers and streams to ensure adequate water supply.
He gave the assurance that the excess produce from farmers throughout the country would be bought by the National Food Buffer Stock Company, adding that warehouses and silos doted all over the country were being rehabilitated for that purpose.
The deputy minister also stated that those who were assisted under the YIA programme would be made to pay back in kind at prices stipulated by the National Food Buffer Stock Company, adding that the purchases would be done in such a way that the farmers would not lose.
He said the company would be responsible for the collection of the farm produce, adding that “beneficiaries will pay back without interest”.
He said to encourage Ghanaian farmers, the government would continue to provide them with subsidised fertilisers and give them the opportunity to purchase tractors at a 30 per cent reduced price.