Planting for food and jobs is one of the flagship programs of the recent government. It commenced back in 2017. The prospect of supporting farming to feed communities and to create jobs seems a laudable initiative.
It has won the admiration and approval of many. But is that all that it seems? Recent media reports however reveal that the program is suffering a major setback. This is concerning rice production in the Northern parts of Ghana, and will have negative implication on affected rice farmers.
No ready market or Storage facilities for harvested rice
Efforts to promote Planting for food and jobs, with regards to rice cultivation in the Northern parts of Ghana seem to have concentrated on production. Hence there is bumper rice harvest in districts across Upper East and Northern regions. This seems great news! But the unfortunate setback it brings does not make it goods news after all. Roads in the farming districts are filled with sacks of rice harvest with no market. This is a major setback to rice farmers in the districts.
Consequently, rice farmers in Upper East region have devised a “buy two sacks, and get one sack free’ method to dispose off the crop. Additionally some farmers have resorted to luring market traders with free guinea foul to get them to buy a sack of their produce. These actions are all at the expense of expected earnings of the farmers
The availability of ready market or storage facilities for the harvested crop is very low or non-existent at all. Rice farmers in the Builsa North district are counting the cost of their production. They are reeling from expected losses because there is no market for the bumper rice harvest, they have made this year. Likewise rice farmers in the Northern region of Ghana. Certainly, some of these farmers will wonder why this, and possibly regret ever launching out into the program. However, this situation should hardly be the outcome of a program with such great potential.
Poor markets likely to propel Poverty
A whole lot of effort goes into preparing the soil, cultivating and nurturing plants to harvest time. The consolation is to get a good harvest AND market for the produce. This is what motivates farmers to do what they do. What makes a good harvest if there is no ready market for the produce?
Planting for food and jobs suffers a major setback. This realization of no ready market for your produce, and worst of all no available storage systems is enough to discourage people from going into farming.
Also enough to propel the cycle of poverty especially in the Northern parts of Ghana, which the government intended to minimize with the Planting for food and jobs program. Architects of the program should sit up and do a better job to ensure impact is positive, and far reaching to the ordinary Ghanaian instead of it been been a mere political rhetoric.