The Hon District Chief Executive Officer for West Gonja in the northern region, Saeed Jibreel Mahazu has asked the youth and Ghanaians in general to take advantage of the many agric related interventions introduced by President Akuffo Addo government to get secured jobs for a better future.

The DCE said this on the occasion of the 33rd edition of farmers’ Day with the theme: “Farming for food and Jobs” at Kabampe in the West Gonja district of the northern region.
He explained that in March this year, His Excellency the president launched the planting for food and Jobs programme which is opportunity to the youth to be in full time agriculture and to create jobs for seventy-five thousand agricultural college graduates this yeear.
Government’s priotization of agriculture to be number one in job creation is to put the economy on sound footing and for the agriculture to strife well in this country, agricultural inputs especially fertilizer and seeds were subsidized and went further to provide agricultural inputs to support over three thousand youth in the district but unfortunately our youth had problem with the fifty percent payment. As I speak now, only five hundred and twenty-seven farmers are on the planting for food and Job programme which has not ordered well for us as a district.

He reminded the youth not to forget that our district was once a leading maize producer. Middlemen from the south and elsewhere were all coming to this district to purchase maize. I would like to entreat all farmers to use this opportunity to enroll on the programme to increase income to reduce poverty which is engulfing us in this district. The more we enroll, the more we shall receive more programme.

Touching on the government’s ‘One district one factory’ program he said the district was looking at establishing ‘Cassava Processing’ factory to make use of abundant cassava produce in the district to increase income for our farmers.
Deparment of agriculture would be supported to establish more cassava secondary fields for continues supply of planting materials for cassava production to farmers. I therefore encourage all our cassava farmers not to rest on their oasis. They should work hard because it is going to reward them.

Planting for Jobs and investment programme is also a programme that will engage youth in nursery activities and seedling distribution for cashew plantation establishment. I have been informed that a project is already in existence which has sponsored farmers in three communities to establish cashew and mango plantation and it is going to be extended to another three communities in 2019.

On challenges faced by farming in the district, the former Assistant Headmaster of Ndewura Jakpa Senior High School said farming cannot be successful if challenges confronting the sector are not addressed.

He said there are two main challenges that farmers are facing viz: Bush fires and farm destruction by alien Fulani herds. Bush fires are rendering our soils infertile because all the soil microbes are killed and also destroying a lot of farms produce. This district cannot boast of food security because every year quantities of crops are being consumed by fire which is increasing the poverty level of our farmers.
I humbly appeal to our chiefs and elders to call the alien herdsmen to order else our farmers would not reap full benefits of government flagships programme in the district.

On his part, the head of Department of Agric for the district
Peter Claver Anyeemey commended farmers for their efforts over past years and urged them to continue the good works they have being doing for the district and the nation.

He was also full of praise to the organizers, saying
the theme of the 34th National Farmers’ Day celebration could not have been more appropriate any time than now as the country is poised to ensuring that her citizens are not only food secured but notoriously safe. As a nation, if we are able to provide enough and healthy food stuff for all categories of people then our doctors and nurses will have a field day.

He took the opportunity to sensitized the public on the responsibilities of the Department of Agric.

‘The mandate of the department is to implement central government agricultural policies and programmes and also collaborate with other stakeholders engaged in agriculture in the district.

The vision of West Gonja Department of Agriculture is to promote agriculture in the District resulting in food security, creating employment opportunities and reduced poverty.

Our Mission is to uphold the mandate to provide effective extension and other technical support services to farmers, processors, marketers and consumers in collaboration with other stake holders in order to achieve food security and food sovereignty through environmentally friendly and demand driven research approaches recognizing topical issues like gender and HIV/AIDS using well trained and motivated staff.

In pursuance of the food and human security needs of our District, the Department in collaboration with development partners, FBOs and other stakeholders has undertaken several agricultural activities between January -September, 2018.

Over 2,160 visits were made to 51,643 farmers for the purpose of technology transfer.

On Technology Demonstration, he said Fifty (50) agricultural technologies were demonstrated at 20 locations for farmers to observe and adopt.

On the situation of Livestock and Poultry Health Care, he explained that over
2,957 animals were vaccinated against various endemic diseases while 933 animals were treated against assorted diseases/ ailments.
Disease surveillance was constantly carried out with the service charges from Veterinary activities generating a total of GH¢ 5,051.00 as income for the office.

The director said
a total of 2,245 farmers were trained on various technologies including small ruminant production/health care, good agronomic practices, postharvest management, group formation and group dynamics, record keeping, safe handling and application of agro-chemicals.

The Planting for Food & Jobs -PFJ- (2018)
Staff facilitated the registration of farmers to participate in the 2018 PFJ programme. A total of 2,500 farmers (2,375 Males & 125 Females) were registered while the actual farmers as at September, 2018 were 2,680 (2,645 males & 35 Female).
Inputs for PFJ stood at a total of 1,108 of various improved seed (Maize: 760, Rice: 300 & Soybean: 48) were received for the programme. The department also received 19,600 subsidized fertilizer coupons (NPK: 13,400 & Urea: 6,200) which have been distributed to beneficiary farmers for the 2018 farming season. The total value of subsidized fertilizer is GH¢ 1,301,800.00.

The district’s Planting for Rural Export & Development (PERD) saw 8,000 seedlings been distributed to 196 beneficiary cashew farmers (185 M & 11 F) in the district. The government is embarking on mass spraying of all cashew plantations in the district.

He explained that the department collaborated with the following development partners in various projects and programmes in the course of the year,
Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING),
Sustainable Land and Water Management Project (SLWMP),
SAPIP (Savanah zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project),
OCP School Laboratory (Providing instant soil testing for farmers).

Validating mineral fertilizers recommendation for the bread basket zone of Ghana
I must state that the above success stories took place in the presence of myriad of challenges. They include;
Unreliable rainfall pattern (Rain fed agriculture)-droughts & floods
Degraded soils caused by soil mining, annual bush fires, deforestation and other bad agricultural practices
High cost of transporting agricultural products from the hinterlands to marketing centres
Pests and diseases take a great toll on our animal population and crops (FAW).

Reluctance of farmers to vaccinate their livestock and poultry
One may be tempted to say poverty is a problem. It is true but poverty exists and will continue to be with us as long as we refuse to address the above challenges with all the seriousness they deserved.
One other problem that is taking a toll on human lives is the inappropriate handling and use of agro-chemicals. Many agro-chemical dealers particularly those who are vendors in our local markets do not know anything about safe handling and use of these chemicals.

The Department intends to register and train all untrained agents of agro-input dealers in safe handling and application of agro-chemicals. This will be done in collaboration with the Input Dealers

The intensity of land use in the district is very low resulting in low productivity. This stems from the very long dry/unproductive period of the year. There is a need for our farmers to remain in a year- round production.
This calls for small scale irrigation schemes.

I take this opportunity to appeal to the West Gonja District Assembly to facilitate the procurement of small scale pumping machines for vegetable farmers around our permanent water bodies.
The production and consumption of dry season vegetables will go a long way to improve the income and health status of the people in the district.

Mr Claver thanked all key stakeholders for their support and appealed to them to continue their good works for the best of futures in the country.

Mr. Mahama Adamu from Laribanga won the District Best Farmer award. He went home with brand new Motor bike, farm inputs and equipment.
The first runner up went to Miss Lawrence Nuzagle, while Abudu Mbonwura won the second runner up award.
Other award winners include,
Best Woman farmer- Mrs. Felicia Gbeneh

Best Maize farmer-Prosper Gaawe

Best Cassava- Wie Dangtier

Best soya bean farmer- Alhaji Issahaku Jamani

The rest are are;

Best Cattle farmer- Martin Bani

Best Small ruminant farmer- Seidu Mahama Alex

Best Physically Challenged farmer- Iddisah Tahiru

Best dry season farming group- Sugri VSLA group

Best PFJ- Ndewura Jakpa SHS.

Best Agriculture Extension Agent-Jedu Mutawakilu.

The ceremony was attended by religious and traditional leaders, heads of departments, security agencies, schools and the general public.

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