The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is appealing to government, institutions and members of the public to buy their produce from the valleys to avoid recurring waste and losses they incurred in previous years.
The Association, which agreed to sell a kilogramme of rice for Gh¢1.50 pesewas, while the 180kg bag would go for Gh¢250.00, noted that “The price is very moderate, Gh¢1.50 pesewas per kilo is very cheap for any Processor to afford.”
The PFAG made the appeal through its Head of Programmes and Advocacy, Mr Charles Nyaaba at a stakeholder meeting to discuss the development of the rice sector at Yagaba in the Mamprugu-Moaduri District of the North East Region.
The meeting brought together farmers from the Fumbisi and Gbedembilisi valleys, Wiesi, Tongo, Vea and Nasia in the Upper East and North East Regions.
Mr Nyaaba said the Association took into consideration the cost of labour, fertilizer, ploughing among others, and decided to increase the price this year by GH¢0.20 pesewas, “Our buyers should have mercy on us. We want government to also come in and buy the rice.
“We don’t want a situation, where bushfires will destroy our farms and produce before government will come in to compensate us. The rice is there, if we are not able to sell by next week, we are likely to lose about 50 percent of the produce.”
He recalled last year, rice farmers, especially in the Fumbisi valleys could not get buyers for their produce after production, and stressed that “We want market for our produce this year. We have produced enough that can satisfy the consumption needs of Ghanaians.”
“The Ministry of Agriculture under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ urged us to produce. We have produced the rice. We are looking for market come and buy so we don’t incur losses,” Mr Nyaaba said.
Mr Abdul-Rahman Mohammed, the President of the PFAG said the Association supported its members last year to acquire seeds to enable them farm, “Unfortunately, there was no ready market for the farmers which was a challenge.”
He said the situation compelled members of the Association to rely on Avnash Industries Ghana Limited in Tamale, and market women who offered prices that were not favorable to them.
Mr Mohammed said even though there were commercial farmers at the various rice valleys, their concern was with the small scale holder farmers, most of whom were women, and called for on government assist them in the business.
The PFAG President expressed concern that apart from their quest to sell the rice, a major challenge to was the lack of combine harvesters to harvest the produce at the right time to prevent bushfires.
“Harvesting the rice at the right time is always our challenge. Last year, a lot of our farms were burnt in bushfires. The affected farmers suffered, some of them could not produce this year because of the lost.”
Mr Francis Ennor, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) noted that marketing was a major problem in agricultural production in Ghana.
He said it was important for farmers to get ready market for their produce before they ventured into the farming business, adding that it was after better negotiations between them and buyers that they could comfortably produce.
“The problem we have identified with farmers is that we don’t have a strong force. Why should we produce and someone will dictate to us how much he wants to buy our produce. It is up to us to reconsider our groupings so that we can have a voice in the area of operations,” Mr Ennor advised.