DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HOLDS VOLTA 2022 JOINT SECTOR REVIEW MEETING
The 2022 Volta Annual Joint Sector Review Meeting has been held on 19th October 2022 at the VAG Hall, Ho, under the theme “Sustaining the Gains of PFJ for a Resilient National Food System”.Participants included farmers, agro input dealers, processors, market women, seed producers, Heads of agricultural colleagues, officers from the Security Agencies, and staff of the Department of Agriculture. In all 35 participants made up of 9 females and 26 males attended the Meeting.
Some of the gains of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) identified over the period include increase in jobs especially for private sector input dealers. It was noted that more drivers, off-loaders, and shop attendants among others had jobs as a result of their involvement in the distribution of inputs by the dealers. It was also identified that there was reduced cost of inputs (fertilizers, seeds etc.) for farmers through the subsidy programme. As a result, more farmers including women and the youth engaged in Agriculture.
Furthermore, through the PFJ intervention there has been increased access to extension services by farmers. Thus, the increased use of improved agricultural technologies such as the use of improved seeds and fertilizers which will results in good yields.
Another gain under PFJ in the region has been the increased production by local seed producers as a result of the use of local hybrid seeds by the farmers.
Some challenges however encountered included inadequate number of registered input dealers in some districts, bureaucracy in the system (lots of paper work) and the illegal activities by some individuals such as smuggling of subsidized inputs to neighboring countries.
At the Meeting, participants brainstormed on how to build a strong national food system that is capable of absorbing external shocks effectively, concentrating on Production and distribution shocks.
It was recommended that farmers be assisted to engage in commercial farming without losing site of the role of small-holder farmers. The Participants stressed the need for government to introduce mechanization centers in each district to catalyse the transition into commercial farming
It was also recommended that monitoring should be more effective to improve on the gains under the PFJ.
Finally, participants recommended that government subsidized inputs be made available on time coupled with loan incentives at reduced rates. That, they stated would enable farmers expand their farming activities and venture into commercial farming.