Rice growers numbering two hundred and fifty female from top producing areas in the Volta Region have benefitted from free portable rice harvesters.
They were among 450 rice farmers from 15 farmer-based organizations (FBO) that were selected from six growing districts in the Region.
The Government’s Modernising Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) programme, which is being supported by the Canadian Government, acquired some 1,000 units of the handheld harvesters, 82 of which were handed over to the FBOs in the Region.
The machines are manoeuvrable, user friendly, and designed to enable harvesting in fields not engineered and also have accessories for reconfiguration into grass-weeding tools.
Mr Sylvester Owusu, Regional Agriculture Engineer, who handed over the harvesters, said it was a novel initiative towards reducing the labour intensity of rice farming through the use of modern tailor-made tools.
“Farmers are always complaining about labour and they have limited tools. Undeveloped fields cannot take combine harvesters and so small motorization would be useful,” he said.
He said reliance on combine harvesters, most of which arrived from Tamale, was a major cause of post-harvest losses in the rice-growing sector.
Mr Owusu said the region remained the leading producer of rice by volumes, thanks to Government’s interventions, adding that the Ministry, as part of its Special Rice Initiative, was focusing on the provision of farming machinery, farmland development, and access to quality processing equipment.
He said most subsistence rice farming relied on sickles and other traditional tools while labour remained unreliable and that the equipment, under the watch of the district agriculture offices, would help increase productivity and minimize post-harvest losses.
Mrs Sandra Ofori, Hohoe Municipal Director of Agriculture, said the portable harvesters would take care of about 50 to 70 per cent of rice farm labour.
“Even young women can handle it,” she said, adding that the Municipal Office would continue to offer the needed skill enhancement for growers.”
She expressed the hope that other plans and interventions by the Ministry would be realized soon.
The Director said the right farming tools and interventions would encourage more young men and women into agriculture.
The 15 FBO were selected from the Ketu North, Ho Municipal, South Tongu, Afadzato South, Ho West and the Hohoe Districts and Municipalities, with a combined total of about 1,000 acres under cultivation.
Richard Mawutor, a beneficiary rice farmer, said the portable harvester, aside from helping harvest more crops, would help ease dependence on weed killers and appealed to stakeholders to help engineer farms for proper mechanization and expansion.
The MAG programme seeks to help realize a more modern, equitable and sustainable agricultural sector, contributing towards food security through the increased adoption of relevant technologies in production.
The programme is also towards encouraging private sector investment in the agro sector and boosting the participation of women.