The Programmes Officer of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Mr Bismark Owusu Nortey, is asking government to increase the subsidy component of the planting for food and jobs initiative to 75 percent to cushion smallholder farmers in country to increase their output to ensure food security in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The planting for food and job initiative has a component where prices of seed and fertilizers are slashed by half, but Mr Nortey says that an increment in the subsidy will go a long way to help the Peasant Farmers purchase many of the agricultural inputs that they need for farming.
According to Mr Nortey, the pandemic has made it difficult for Peasant Farmers to access money. Hence the need for government to support them with more subsidies to continue producing food for the nation.
“Our expectation is that because of this pandemic, now money has become a very difficult thing to get and so we need an increase in the subsidy component of the planting for food and jobs. So instead of the 50 percent, they can increase to maybe 75 percent so at least farmers can be able to purchase a lot of the inputs so that they can plant for us”, he said.
The Peasant Farmers Association Programmes Officer said this in an interview on ‘The Pulse’ programme on the Joy News Channel, on May 6, 2020.
Peasant Farmers apprehensive
In addition to the above, Mr Nortey, also appealed to the government to construct more storage facilities to help in the storage of agricultural produce for post-harvest management.
Commenting on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Agriculture sector in the country, Mr Nortey says smallholder farmers are “a bit apprehensive” to move to their various farms even though the farming season has commenced.
He cautioned that should the Peasant Farmers not be encourage to return to their farms, the country may be hit with a food shortage in the long run.
“Prior to Covid, the farmers would have, at this time, started going to the farms because the rains have started, but now it’s like there is a bit of fear and anxiety in the air so the farmers are not really comfortable going to the farms even though we continue to urge them”, he added.
To prevent such a situation, he stated that his outfit had taken its upon itself to go to the hinterlands, where majority of their members reside, to educate them on the precautionary measures as put out by the World Health Organization and the Government.
He explained that the move forms part of effort to get the Peasant Farmers to return to the farms.
“We are trying to avert their fears that going to the farms is not enough for them to attract the disease as long as they take the precautionary measures very seriously”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, the Content Manager for Esoko, an agricultural profiling and messaging firm, says food prices for the month of May, would increase slightly over the April figures due to the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Esoko, in its commodity index report for April, 2020, said that food prices have increased significantly over the month of April.
For instance, it said that there was a hike of 28.84% in the price of cassava to close the month of April at GH₵124.33 from GH₵96.50 per bag traded in March.
The commodity index further showed that Pona, a variety of yam, has increased from GH₵667.17 in March to be trading at GH 814.67 per 100 tubers, gaining 22.11% increment.
He explained that one of the many reasons that accounted for the hikes in food prices is the access to capital for the farms in the wake of the pandemic. Suggesting therefore that should this be rectified prices may reduce in the coming months.
By Salifu B.B. Moro