Lack of professional extension agents hampering agriculture in Cape Coast

By Isaac Arkoh, GNA

Cape Coast, Feb. 07,
GNA – Inadequate agriculture extension agents in the Cape Coast Metropolis is
hampering agricultural services delivery, Mr Henry Fordjour, the Metropolitan
Director of Agriculture, has said.

The Metropolis could
boast of only 10 extension agents with a ratio of 1,115 farmers per an
extension officer, a situation that was affecting the technical knowledge and
directions in agriculture as expected and sometimes result in poor yield.

Speaking in an
interview with the GNA, he noted that extension agents were key to providing
agricultural services on chemical application, good planting and harvesting
practices and modern trends in farming to boost production.

He said agricultural
extension delivery played a major role in addressing and equipping farmers with
improved and modern technologies to enhance their farming methods.

The ideal situation
is that at least two or three communities would have access to an agriculture
extension agent who would help them cultivate their farms to maximise yields as
well as profits.

But the GNA team
observed that many farmers were not getting the desired yields due to the lack
of technical support services.

Mr Fordjour mentioned
that the lack of knowledge in the application of chemicals often damage
farmers’ crops and affected their health and appealed to the authorities to
engage more extension officers to save the situation.

He also hinted of his
office’s resolve to give strong boost to greenhouse farming technology to
increase food production.

This, he said was
geared towards creating jobs for the youth through technologically inclined
methods of farming to maintain food security in the area and to complement government’s
agricultural revolution flagship programme “Planting for Food and
Jobs” (PFJ).

Touching on PFJ, he
announced that a total of 4,588 farmers had been registered but only 1,883 were
engaged – comprising of 1,247 males and 636 females.

The figure represents
a sharp increase of 3,638 over the 950 farmers registered for the year 2017.

In all, a total of
616 acres of largely maize and rice farms had been cultivated since the
inception of the PFJ programmes in addition to the supply of about 999 fertilizers
to farmers comprising of 789 males and 210 females.

Mr Fordjour said the
Assembly had prioritised the cultivation of major vegetables such as tomatoes,
cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, coconut, pepper and maize.

Additionally, the
Assembly had also registered 320 farmers to be supplied with over 50,000
coconut seedlings and 100,000 oil palm seedlings in support of government’s
planting for food and export.

To rake in the
support of all institutions and organisations, about seven educational
institutions including the University of Cape Coast, Aggrey Memorial Zion SHS,
Mfantsipim School, Adisadel College, among others, have been involved.

He encouraged farmers
to consider farming as business and a major source of livelihood and register
with the Ministry to get certified seeds and fertilizers that would boost crop
yields.

Later in engagements
with some farmers they expressed worry about poor extension services which had
affected food production.

They revealed that
the agricultural extension agents were not punctual, while their relationship
with farmers, especially female farmers and visits to the various farms were
not encouraging.

GNA

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