The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has said it is working to ensure that rice farmers across the country adopt modern methods in harvesting their produce.
This according to the Ministry, will help address post-harvest loses and also boost production to enable Government meet its target of making Ghana sufficient in rice production in the next two years.
The Ministry has already engaged with rice farmers in parts of the country to abreast itself with challenges the farmers face especially during harvest.
The Ministry’s delegation visited the Ejisu Municipality in the Ashanti Region where rice farmers continue to use the manual method in harvesting the cereal.
Farmers from about twelve communities within the Ejisu Municipality are into rice cultivation.
The availability of wetlands has made rice cultivation within the communities suitable, making the municipality one of the areas with high production levels in the Ashanti Region.
Currently, 3,218 farmers from the municipality who have registered under Government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme produce 2.5 tonnes per hectare of rice.
But due to the lack of modern farm inputs, the rice farmers resort to manual methods to get their produce harvested. This process, according to the farmers, is not only tedious, but also affects production.
A rice farmer at Akyawkrom in the Municipality, Zakari Abubakar Saddiq, said “there are really a lot of challenges with this work. One would have to weed, sow and go through a lot of processes. Even after that, the birds invade our rice farms and it is very worrying. During the harvesting, we encounter other challenges especially when we try to extract the cereal. All these processes lead to loses even when one expects to get more than 100, 90 or 150 bags after harvest.”
Other farmers raised similar concerns and called on government to pay attention to the activities of farmers in the sector.
“After plucking the rice, we use drums so we will be able to extract the cereal. It is really affecting us. There are a lot of challenges in this job we do, so we will wish the government pays attention and help us”, a rice farmer, Fuseini Abubakar, said.
Agric extension officers and stakeholders at Ejisu and its environs have strengthened collaboration with the local security to prevent the activities of illegal miners on farmlands within the farming communities.
Ghana currently spends about one billion dollars annually to import rice from other countries.
Government is however working to halt this trend after a massive campaign by some organizations including CITI TV and Citi FM for the patronage of Made in Ghana rice in 2019.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture(MoFA), has secured modern rice harvesting equipment which cost GHS 11,000 to be distributed to farmers on credit for the payment to be done in installments.
A Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, George Oduro, who led a team to Ejisu to demonstrate how the equipment is used for harvesting rice, indicated that this is part of government’s response to concerns raised by rice farmers across the country during a recent tour of some farming communities.
“We have about thousand pieces of this equipment including thrashers and hand harvesters we are going to distribute to the farmers across the country throughout the southern sector, and rice valleys to enable the farmers harvest their rice and use the machine to do the thrashing. So, it is a good thing for the farmers and the country. If we are able to continue as we are doing, possibly, by the two years that we want to stop the importation of rice into this country, will be realized”.