Solidarida Dan international civil society organisation, has handed over two warehouses and additional facilities to some farmers in the Sissala West District in the Upper West Region.
The warehouses, sited at Toroyili and Wiiro, are to enable the farmers to undertake dry season farming and store the yields to sustain employment and food production all year round and enhance food security in the district and region.
Two other warehouses, being constructed at Sakai and Tawsaw in the Sissala East District of the region, are expected to be completed and handed over by April this year.
All the warehouses come with solar-powered mechanised boreholes, a reservoir and a fenced area acquired for the farmers for the purposes of dry season farming.
The project cost $4 million, half of which was borne by the Dutch government through its foreign ministry. The remaining part was funded by Masara N'arziki, an investment firm, through an arrangement that enables the Masara N’arziki to recoup its investments through the sharing of farm yields after every harvest season.
Under the arrangement, Masara N'arziki provides technical training and some logistical support to farmers to equip them for better farm practices that would help them produce higher yields.
It is intended to help farmers increase their yields as a means to fight poverty and at the same time ensure food security in a region noted for the difficulties occasioned by environmental conditions.
The Upper West Region experiences just a single farming season that does not last beyond six months. Subsequent to that, farmers are compelled to idle or migrate for job opportunities.
Addressing members of the Baka Wero Farmers Association at Wiiro in the Sissala West District last Friday, the Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, Mr Isaac Gyamfi, said the project was designed to shift farming from a rainy season activity to an all-year-round employment venture capable of yielding more than the lure of migration to the south.
He said the beneficiary farmers under the project would have no excuse if they failed to multiply the quantities of their yields, given the investment made in them through the partnership with Masara N'arziki Farmers Association.
The Project Engineer, Mr Jan van Saane, who represented the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, said the Dutch government had moved from aid to trade in a bid to offer opportunities to the less privileged to develop their own potentials to make them self-sufficient.
He said the key concept of the project was to change the mentality of local farmers to make them see and access the potentials in the sector for their good and that of society.
The acting president of the Baka Wero Farmers Association, Mr Cosmos Wibonto, said the project would reduce the drift of farm labour from the north towards the south, and cited himself as an example of a youth willing to farm in the dry season because of the facilities now available to his 17-member association.
He said more farmers had applied to join the association following the start of dry season farming within the community from November last year.
The warehouse at Wiiro is attached to a three-acre farmland on which members of the Baka Wero Farmers Association have started growing maize and some vegetables during the dry season.