Most smallholder farmers in the Northern Region have reduced the size of the land they usually cultivate due to a lack of capital, raising concerns of looming food shortage.
According to the farmers, the outbreak of COVID-19 affected the sale of their produce as demand for foodstuff fell following the three weeks lockdown in Accra and Kumasi, the two major market centres for their produce.
As a result, farmers could not raise the needed capital to purchase inputs for the new farming season.
Each farming season, farmers reserve a part of their farm produce to sell during the lean season in order to get capital for the next season.
However, following the partial closure of some cities in the country as a result of COVID-19, farmers up north could not transport their produce for sale.
Those who managed to get buyers sold their produce at ridiculously low prices and consequently generated very low incomes.
Rashida Sumaila, a farmer tells Citi Business News, she has reduced the number of acreages she used to plough due to a lack of funds to employ the services of a tractor as well as procure other farm inputs.
“Comparing last year to this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us. This is because, in the past years, I used to farm about 5 acres and will be able to buy weedicides and fertilizers and also pay for labour. Last year I had better yield from my 5 acres of soya beans farm because I was able to look after it well. Since the outbreak of the disease, we are told not to come together, and business is about people getting together. So the pandemic has affected us both in our farming and trading. Because of the pandemic, I am not able to farm up to the number of acres I used to farm. I have only 2 acres now. And taking care of it is even a problem because it was in the trade I used to get money in running the farm,” she lamented.
A recent assessment carried out by World Vision on the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods shows that the pandemic has affected about 80 percent of subsistence farmers in the Gushegu and Karaga districts in the Northern Region and need urgent intervention.
The Peasant Farmers Association earlier raised similar concerns over the impact of the pandemic on food security, particularly among smallholder farmers and called for support from government and its development partners.
Charles Nyaba, the Program Manager for the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana said the following in a Citi Business News interview:
“World Vision has taken the first step to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on 350 smallholder farmers in the Gushegu and Karaga districts. The support from World Vision is a timely one, however, it is obvious that, the organization alone cannot take care of the needs of all farmers in the area and the Northern Region generally. It is imperative that, other partners move in to support smallholder farmers who produce most of the food in the country,” he added.