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Sekyere Kumawu Assembly leveraging on agribusiness

BY: Felix A. Baidoo
Mr Godfrey Appiah Acheampong (left),  distrcit director of MoFA intercting with some extension officers at Bahankra
Mr Godfrey Appiah Acheampong (left), distrcit director of MoFA intercting with some extension officers at Bahankra

The Sekyere Kumawu District Assembly is leveraging on various government flagship projects like agriculture and other development initiatives to improve on the standard of living of the people of the area.

The initiatives, which include Planting for Food and Jobs and Planting for Export and Rural Development, are expected to help in the creation of jobs for hundreds of youth roaming the streets of various communities, and to control the migration of the youth from the rural communities to urban centers.

Aside from the cultivation of various crops for both local consumption and for export, the assembly is also constructing two warehouses for crops to prevent post-harvest losses, and also for proper storage before being sent to the market.

Apart from helping in boosting the income of the farmers, the projects are expected to improve the economies of the local communities, and to provide raw materials to feed some local industries that are involved in the One district-One factory projects in other districts across the country.

Cashew plantations

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The assembly last year distributed 250,000 cashew seedlings to 211 farmers comprising 146 males and 65 females from across the district.

A total of 2,500 hectares (6,250 acres) have so far been covered with cashew.

Apart from creating jobs for hundreds of people, especially the youth in the district, the cashew project also stands the chance of providing raw materials to feed some local factories in the One district-One factory (1D1F) project in other districts across the country.

It is expected that the cultivation of the cashew products will boost the income levels of the farmers which in the long run will lead to improved standard of living for the local economy and the nation as a whole.

Cocoa project

To make good use of the vast fertile farmlands in the district, the assembly has since November 2018 set up a 250,000 nursery for cocoa seedlings at Bahankra.

The seedlings, which are expected to cover 560 acres, are ready for planting.

The seedlings are to be distributed to 50 registered cocoa farmers in the district (35 male and 15 female) who are already in the cocoa industry.

Aside from the distribution of the cocoa seedlings, the cocoa farmers have been trained in the best farming practices by the Sekyere Kumawu District Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to help boost the production of cocoa and other foodstuffs.

Mr Samuel Addae Agyekum (2nd right), DCE for Sekyere Kumawu, having a discussion with some members of his team during a tour of one of the construction sites at Wonoo

Rice project

The district directorate of MoFA, in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is also undertaking a district-wide rice cultivation project to increase rice production with a large acreage of arable land for the venture.

The project, which is being funded by the assembly’s Common Fund at a cost of GH¢20,000, is aimed at creating jobs for the youth.

Demonstration farm

As part of effort to ensure a massive scale-up of rice production, a demonstration farm to train farmers will soon be established at Dadease.

Throwing light on the rice project, the District Chief Executive for Sekyere Kumawu, Mr Samuel Addae Agyekum, said the project was targeting all farmers in the area to receive free rice seedlings.

Mr Agyekum said the assembly was implementing the initiative to take advantage of its huge economic potential for agriculture and agribusiness, since that sector alone contributed more than 90 per cent of its Internally Generated Funds (IGF).

Background

The Sekyere Kumawu District shares boundaries with Sekyere Afram Plains District to the east, Sekyere Central to the west, and Sekyere East and Asante Akim North to the south.

According to the 2010 population census, the population of the district stood at 28,535 ,with 15,184 males and 13,351 females.

Of this number, majority of them are farmers most of whom cultivate assorted food and cash crops.

The district covers an estimated land area of 1,500.6 square kilometres, which is 6.2 per cent of the total land of the Ashanti Region.

Availability of farmland

The Paramount Chief of Kumawu, Barima Tweneboah Koduah, through the Kumawu Traditional Council, has offered a total of 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) to the Sekyere Kumawu District Assembly for the execution of various development initiatives.

The parcel of land, which stretches from Drobonso to Temante, was to help in the implementation of the various development initiatives of the government as a means of complementing government’s effort at creating jobs and improving the economy.

Barima Tweneboah Koduah was upbeat that the increased farming activities in the area would not only create jobs and increase local economies, but could help the nation increase its export after it had added value to the products.

MoFA support

The district office of MoFA has a total of 26 extension officers who monitor and control all agricultural activities in the district.

The core mandate of the extension officers is to train the farmers in their operational areas on cultivation techniques and best practices of fertiliser application.

Aside from this, the extension officers also provide information and professional advice on farming to enhance operations to boost productivity and income of the farmers.

Challenges

The District Director of MoFA, Mr Godfrey Appiah Acheampong, said the major challenge that confronted the operations of his personnel was the late release of farming inputs such as planting seeds and fertilisers.

He explained that if all the needed inputs were supplied on time for distribution and usage, there was no way the farmers and the nation would not reap so much from the investment.

Mr Acheampong stated that if the inputs arrived late, no good management practice could be put in place to get the desired results, since timing and good weather conditions played very crucial roles in farming.

Warehousing project

The Sekyere Kumawu District is among the few beneficiaries of the national buffer stock warehousing projects being undertaken by the government.

As of now, two warehousing projects are under construction in the district to store food and cash crops grown in the district and other adjourning communities.

It would also reduce the annual post-harvest losses of crops as a result of lack of storage facilities in the district.

One of the projects being constructed between Akotosu and Wonoo is a 1,000-tonne grains warehouse under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP).

The project, which is being funded through the Ministry of Special Development Initiative (MSDI), was being constructed by PREFOS Limited, a local construction company.

A visit by the Daily Graphic to the project site showed ongoing construction activities by the contractor.

The first warehouse project being constructed between Wonoo and Akotosu is being constructed for the storage of cereals and legumes which are very common in the area.

The second project located between Dadiase and Wonoo also has a storage capacity of 1,000 tonnes of grains with ancillary structures, and was being constructed by Bios Construction Limited under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, with funding from the Government of Ghana.

Upon completion, it would have machines and storage facilities for the storage of cereals and legumes like rice, beans, maize soya beans and vegetables.

District assembly

The DCE was full of praise for the Paramount Chief of Kumawu for donating large acreage of land to the assembly for various projects.

He stated that it was currently registering farmer groups in the various communities so they could be assisted with the right inputs and technical know-how to help in their farming activities.

Comparative advantage

He explained that the district was basically an agrarian area, so would take advantage of the various projects to bounce back as a major source of food and other cash crop producer in the region and the rest of the country.

The DCE said as part of the assembly’s dream of boosting agricultural activities in the area, it would, within the next five years, vote huge sums of money from its common fund and the internally generated fund to support farming activities.

Registration of poultry firms

He announced that the assembly had registered 30 poultry firms that had expressed interest in moving to the area to operate due to the availability of land and increasing production of maize and other crops which they needed badly for the poultry industry.

Farmers

Farmers who spoke to the Daily Graphic were upbeat that the various government interventions when sustained stood the chance of improving their lives, since they would not only help them alone but many players in the agribusiness sector.

They appealed to the government to ensure early release of seedlings and other farming inputs so that they could plant on time to benefit from the good weather.