Tonnes of farm produce could go to waste in parts of the Upper East Region due to lack of storage facilities and ready market.
Farmers in the region say their harvests in last season were good, despite the fall armyworm invasion.
For Joy News Agenda which focuses on government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme, Upper East correspondent, Albert Sore spoke to some farmers who revealed the challenges they face, despite the good harvests.
The programme, according to the government, is aimed at producing enough food to feed the nation, export the surpluses, reduce the excessive food import bill and generate employment for Ghanaians.
Last year, 200,000 farmers were targeted nationwide for the programme.
Deputy Agriculture Minister in-charge of Horticulture, George Oduro during a recent visit to the Upper East Region to assess the impact of the programme, was impressed with the strides made.
He cited good harvests and employment opportunities created as a result the programme.
Some farmers in the Upper East Region confirmed that the programme was very helpful to them and they were able to get good harvests despite the invasion of the fall armyworm.
Samuel Abiayega, a farmer, said he increased the acreage of his maize farm because of the benefits he was getting from the program.
“Because of the armyworm, I did not meet my target [harvest] but the harvest was still good,” he said.
However, the farmers are still facing some challenges.
The 1996 national best farmer, George Aloko Dongo who is currently a commercial farmer based in the Upper East region says farmers like himself were approached by the government, to play a role in the programme due to their level of experience.
“Our engagement with the government was that we should absorb the farmers, teach them how to farm, give them inputs, give them assistance and also take responsibility for marketing their produce.
“But this will be difficult because the commercial farmer has also got his own farm to manage”, he said.
Mr Aloko Dongo confirmed government’s recent claim of bumper harvests, as far as the Upper East Region is concerned, but says most of the farmers have not been able to make any income from their harvests.
He revealed that the farmers who worked under him as part of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, almost sold their produce at giveaway prices to market queens because they had no other buyers.
“You needed three bags (of maize) to fill two of the kind of bags the market women were using. Which means you were losing because; then you would be selling three bags of maize at the price of two”, he said.
Mr Aloko Dongo said the planting for food and jobs programme is a good initiative but adds that for the programme to succeed and be sustainable, government needs to take another look at its approach.
He suggests the introduction of inventory credit by government, as a solution to the lack of market problem.
The Planting for Food and Jobs programme is doing well in producing food in the Upper East Region but from what the farmers say, it is not exactly creating jobs because they are not able to sell most of their produce due to lack of ready market.