A research conducted on the one-year implementation of government’s flagship programme: ‘Planting for Food and Jobs,’ has revealed some challenges confronting its successful implementation.
The research was conducted by the Civil Society in Agriculture Platforms in 2017 in 90 communities across 30 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) in three regions; Northern, Upper East and Upper West.
It was part of the Northern Ghana Governance Activity (NGGA) Project of promoting responsive agriculture development in those regions.
The research findings were made known at a stakeholders’ forum organised by the Consortium of Non-Governmental Organisations implementing the five-year NGGA Project.
It brought together municipal and district directors of agriculture, civil society and women platforms in agriculture, staff of the Regional Coordinating Council, and the media among others drawn from the Project implementation areas in the Upper East Region.
The NGGA Project is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Feed the Future’s Northern Ghana Governance Activity, through the United States Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.
The research, which implored the Community Score Card Methodology, revealed that there was long distance to fertilizer and seed distribution points, which made many of the farmers to incur additional costs.
It further identified the low participation of women famers in the PFJs as a result of majority of them not being properly targeted.
Whilst it identified the low involvement of Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty beneficiaries and Persons with Disabilities in the implementation of the PFJs programme, it mentioned inadequate sharing of information about the programme’s benefits to many of the farmers as another problem.
Non-existence of complaint and feedback mechanisms at the district levels, the cumbersome nature of payment of monies for farm inputs due to the long distance of designated banks from farming communities, inadequate number of agricultural extension agents (AEAs), especially women AEAs, logistical challenges, as well as political interference in the implementation of the programme were also identified.
Some recommendations made by the research are that government must ensure timely release of adequate quantity of fertilizers and seeds, and the adequate provision of logistical support in the budget including motorbikes and fuel for AEAs.
It underscored the need for government to lift the ban on employment for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to recruit AEAs of which 40 per cent should be women to provide extension services to women farmers.
The research recommended that MMDCEs should avoid interfering in the distribution of the subsidised farm inputs and rather concentrate on the monitoring of the effective implementation of the Project.
It advocated for a multi-pronged approach in communicating the benefits and modalities of access to PFJs programmes to farmers, adequate sharing of information on PFJs in the various dominant local languages, establishment of public-private partnership arrangement with the agro-input dealers to sell seed using the coupon system, and a 40 per cent quota to be reserved for women farmers at the district level.
The NGGA Project, which is in its third year of implementation, is being executed in the Bongo, Nabdam, Talensi, and Bawku West districts and the Bolgatanga, Kassena-Nankana and Bawku Municipal Assemblies in the Upper East Region.