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AGRA President tours projects in Northern Region

BY: Samuel K. Obour

The President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Mrs Jane Karuku, has visited the Northern Region for a first-hand assessment of the impact of agricultural projects being implemented by its partners.

AGRA has committed over US$40 million provided by its donors to financing a number of projects that seek to increase the productivity of farmers and for that matter, their incomes, so as to alleviate poverty.

After receiving briefings and visiting farms to interact with beneficiary farmers, Mrs Karuku expressed delight over the success of the projects.

“We are breeding improved crop varieties and establishing a lot of demonstration farms to promote the adoption of new farming technologies. I am optimistic that crop yields would improve through such efforts,” she said.

She said linkage between research institutions, seed producers and farmers was crucial to ensure the delivery of improved seeds to farmers.

Mrs Karuku said Ghana and the rest of Africa had no other choice than to invest in increasing crop yields and promote agriculture so as to guarantee food security for the continent.

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She also noted that an improvement in crop yields and marketing would impact positively on the majority of Ghana’s population who depended directly on farming.

Among the projects she inspected was the Agricultural Value Chains Mentorship Project (AVCMP), which has over the last two years enhanced the adoption of integrated soil fertility management technologies and improved farmers’ access to inputs and markets for their produce.

It has also built the capacity of various small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the production value-chain through entrepreneurial and other training programmes.

The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in Nyankpala is implementing the soil fertility component of this project, whilst the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC) and Ghana Agricultural Associations for Business Information Centre (GAABIC) are implementing the other components.

According to the AVCMP Productivity Co-ordinator, Dr Wilson Dogbe, 14,000 farmers had participated in various on-and off-the field training in soil preparations and best crop management practices at learning centres in 16 districts in the region.

He said 123 demonstration farms had been established to showcase the application of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) technologies and its immense benefits to soils and crop yields.

“We adopted other innovative means of spreading these technologies such as travelling on tricycles from community to community, showing videos on these practices,” he added.

Dr Dogbe said many of the farmers that the project had covered recorded a bumper harvest of maize in 2012 and this, he noted, was an indication of how successful the adoption of new farming technologies had been to the farmers.

“Their yields increased by almost three times over that of the previous years,” he said.

AGRA has also extended some funding support to research institutions such as SARI and the University for Development Studies (UDS) to research into new seed varieties that are high-yielding and suitable for the ecology of the region.

As a result, new seed varieties have been developed and released to farmers in collaboration with seed producers, such as Lexbok Investments Limited.

It is expected that through such efforts, crop production in the region would soar.

By Nurudeen Salifu/Daily Graphic/Ghana