GHANA - The production of major cereal crops like maize and rice in the Brong Ahafo region - the food basket of the country has suffered a massive setback as a result of effects of climate change, accounting for drastic shortfall of those commodities.
It has been estimated that the region will experience a shortfall in maize production of about 40-50% and about 20-30% for rice; this may negatively affect food inflation for the listed commodities, Dr. Cyril Quist, Brong Ahafo Region Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has hinted.
“The 2015 cropping season was characterized by dry spells, drought and erratic distribution of rainfall. The situation affected soil moisture availability, crop growth and performance. It also affected agricultural decision making with respect to time of land preparation, planting and various agronomic practices,” he said.
Addressing a durbar at Techiman to mark the 31st Regional Farmers’ day celebration, he noted that the manifestation of the effects of climate change which is characterized by long droughts and excessive rainfall at the extremes calls for interventions in the areas of conservation agriculture; weather information; soil and water conservation; drought tolerant short duration varieties; tree planting among others.
Dr. Quist therefore commended organizations like Adaptation of Agro-Ecosystems to Climate Change (AAESCC/GIZ), ACDEP, GSOP and Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP) for their endeavours in these areas of concern, and advised farmers to adopt these measures to reduce the effects of climate related yield losses.
He was however optimistic that shortfalls in cereal will be offset by “relatively better performance” for root and tuber crops as well as plantain. “Commodity availability for the various crops could be described as good,” he stated.
Mr. Eric Opoku, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, said the theme for this year’s celebration “Transform Ghana: Invest in Agriculture” is in line with the vision of government which seeks to create a modernised agriculture culminating in a structurally transformed economy, evident in food security, employment opportunities and reduce poverty.
He noted that the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) emphasizes commodity value chains anchored on various infrastructures to support the entire agricultural sector from production t the final consumer.
The Plan according to him, has projected GH¢1,532,409,000 in the medium term would be needed to put in place various infrastructure such as irrigation, storage facilities, roads and rural infrastructure, mechanization services, technology and equipment among others to create the backbone to support the middle income status of Ghana.
To prioritise agriculture and ensuring continuous improvement in the efficiency and profitability of agriculture, Mr. Opoku said resourceshave been redirected at harnessing the strengths inherent in the various commodity value chains for national transformation.
To this end, government under the NRGP in the region has rehabilitated a total of 78km of feeder roads in five districts-Tain, Pru, Sene, Atebubu, Kintanpo North and South to aid easy transportation of foodstuff to market centres.
A GH¢1.2 million warehouse is also almost completed in the Tain District to support aggregators store maize, he added.
In all, over 285 farmers in Brong Ahafo received awards for various enterprises in the 27 Municipal and Districts.
A 36-year-old Kwame Ayarna, was adjudged the best farmer in the region. He took home as his prize a motor tricycle, spraying machine, bags of fertilizers, and a piece of wax print among others.