The Atebubu-Amantin Municipality in the Brong Ahafo Region is expecting a bumper maize harvest this year, because of positive signs of successful implementation of the government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs Programme (PFJ), initiated to enable the country to produce enough food to feed itself and export the surplus.
Farmers in the municipality have embraced the programme to the extent that the 1,262 hectares of land cultivated for maize production under the programme in 2017 have increased to 8,426 hectares in 2018 while the number of beneficiaries has risen from 424 to 1,399 within the period under review.
“The success of the programme this year is beyond imagination and we are expecting that the Atebubu-Amantin municipality will be the leading producer of maize in the country this year”, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Edward Owusu, told the Daily Graphic at
"The President's vision to ensure that the country does not import maize is on course and the Atebubu-Amantin Municipality is leading the charge," he stated.
Tour of farms
A tour by the Graphic Business of some maize farms, expected to be harvested in about six weeks revealed that, the plants have developed big maize cobs, which according to the Municipal Director of Agriculture, Mr George D. Amanyoh, was pointing to bumper harvest of the crop in the area.
Amantin Agro Processing Company
By far, the biggest maize farm in the municipality is the 2,000-hectare farm cultivated by Amantin Agro-Processing Company at Amantin which is also benefiting from the PFJ programme.
The company, which is also into cassava cultivation, decided to take advantage of the PFJ programme by using its harvested land to undertake maize production and provide jobs for the youth in the area.
The Manager of the company, Mr William Kwaku Boateng, explained that the company intended to increase its maize cultivation to 10,000 hectares next year, because of the expected yield of the crop, this year.
The 40-acre maize farm at Gyato Zongo, owned by Mr Isaac Oppong, a civil servant and the 50-acre farm at Atebubu, owned by the Benkumhene of the Atebubu Traditional Area, Oheneba Ampadu Boateng, bear testimony to the involvement of the various categories of people in the area who have all embraced the PFJ programme.
The Atebubu Municipal Chief Farmer, Mr Amadu Kwasi told the Graphic Business that while most of the male maize farmers in the area were expected to harvest between 500 and 1000 bags, some of their female counterparts were each expected to harvest not less than 50 bags.
Youth in agric
On the involvement of the youth in the PFJ programme, the Atebubu-Amantin District Director of Agriculture, Mr George D. Amanyo,said a total of 10,237 (8,209 males and 2,028 females) had been employed by beneficiaries of the programme in the area.
Some of the youth in the area have been employed permanently by the Amantin Agro-Processing Company to cultivate maize while others have also been employed on casual basis by other maize farmers.
Fall army worms
Mr Amanyoh said the expected boom in maize production in the area could also be attributed to the fight against the invasion of the Fall Army Worms this year.
According to him, in 2017 a total of 1,026.1 hectares of maize farms in the area were infested with the worms and out of which 941.5 hectares were recovered after spraying while 84.60 hectares were destroyed.
Mr Amanyo said the story was different this year, as the entire 2,488 hectares of maize farms which were attacked by the worms had been recovered due to the early application of the right chemicals to fight the invasion.
He stated that besides maize production, the municipality was also expecting a substantial increase in rice production under the programme, this year.
Mr Amanyo explained that the 214.2 hectares of rice cultivated last year had increased to 825 hectares, this year with the number of beneficiaries, however, increasing slightly from 173 to 177 within the period under review.
Oheneba Ampadu Boateng commended officials of MOFA in the area for their commitment to the success of the programme which had rekindled the interest of farmers in the production of the various cereals and vegetables.
“If we continue to adopt the best agronomic practices while the government provide the necessary inputs at the right time, the country can ride on the back of agriculture to grow the economy faster”, he stated.
Oheneba Ampadu, who is also an agronomist, commended the government for the introduction of the PFJ programme and expressed the hope that marketing strategies would be adopted to offer the beneficiaries fair prices to sustain their interest in the agriculture sector.
For his part, the Manager of the Amantin Agro-Processing Company, Mr William Kwaku Boateng, thanked the government for the provision of inputs under the PFJ programme.
He, however, appealed to the government to rehabilitate roads leading to the farming communities to enable the farmers to cart their produce to the marketing centres without going through hassle.