The Head of Programmes and Advocacy, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Mr Charles Nyaaba, has encouraged smallholder farmers to take advantage of the Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers (GhaFFaP) incubation service to expand their businesses.
He said the incubation programme would enable them to collaborate with financial institutions like the Agricultural Development Bank and the Exim Bank for a credit facility to purchase fertilizers, seeds, storage facilities and help package their produce to meet the demand of the market.
Mr Nyaaba said the initiative would address the financial challenges, collateral issues and bureaucracy farmers faced when soliciting for credit facilities from financial institutions in the country.
Speaking at the maiden national dialogue on GhaffaP in Accra, he said the programme would help the farmers to develop their produce, add value and be competitive in the emerging market.
The Programme Manager commended Government for introducing the Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Programme to support poor smallholder farmers with farm inputs and urged it to restructure the programme to avoid delays in accessing products.
Mr Nyaaba also lauded Government’s stimulus package for Ghanaians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but appealed to authorities to consider the plight of the poor farmers who were unable to access the fund because they did not have Tax Identification Numbers and proper records.
He expressed concerns over the effects of flooding and drought on farming activities and said when not handled well, could affect food security in the country.
Mr Nyaaba said the spillage of the Bagre Dam had affected food production, properties and lives in the Northern Region and called for a consensus to amicably address the situation.
He urged Government to implement the 50 meter buffer zones plan to prevent settlers coming close to the dam and construct adjacent dams to address the perennial problems.
Mr Mark Kebo Akparibo, a member of GhaFFaP said the Federation was made up of forest and farm producer organisations from the three ecological zones of Savannah, Transition and Forest Zones.
He said the Federation sought to ensure a collective voice for forest and farm producers in addressing policy issues, access to finance and markets for smallholder farmers in the country.
Mr Fidelis Issah Ayipe, Consultant, Forest and Farm Facility Project funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of UN said the agricultural sector was dominated by smallholder forest and farm producers but faced with challenges despite the several programmes outlined to accelerate growth in the sector.
He urged the farmers to make good use of Government’s interventions such as Planting for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development, One District one Warehouse, One Village One Dam to maximize their operations for optimum outcome.
Mr Charles Abani, the UN Resident Coordinator called on Government to support rural farmers to expand their production and make them viable entity because 80 per cent of the foodstuff comes from the rural areas.
He urged farmers to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area and add value to their produce and market them across the continent.
Mr Abani admonished the Federation to explore the use of ICT and assured them of UN support to improve the sector and ensure sustained development.