The substantial gains made in food production in the Ejura-Sekyedumase Municipality in the Ashanti region would likely suffer a setback at least this year, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Data gathered from the Municipal Agric directorate by the GBC indicate that for instance, even though the Municipality produced 110 thousand metric tons of maize in 2019, only 15 thousand metric tons of the commodity had been produced as at May this year, while the number of farmers officially registered to participate in the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative has as well seen a not-too-impressive record so far.
The Municipal Director of Agric, Mr. Ben Leo Adda said the inability of the farmers to access key production inputs such as fertilizer from the registered dealers is also a major setback.
EJURA & ADRIC
It is an undeniable fact that the Ejura-Sekyedumase remains one of Ghana’s food baskets contributing substantially to the country’s food security programme. The major food crops produced in this municipality are the grains, cereals, legumes and vegetables.
The introduction of the government’s agricultural flagship intervention of Planting for Food and Jobs has boosted the production of particularly maize, rice and soya beans in the municipality as the number of participating farmers continue to increase since the start year of 2017.
For instance, last year, about 40 thousand crop farmers took advantage of the state subsidy of production inputs to increase their production level, while as at the end of May this year, 28 thousand others had registered to participate in the programme.
However, the Ejura-Sekyedumase Municipal Agric Director, Mr. Ben Leo Adda, speaking to GBC, said even though he was gratified with the gains made in food production in the area since 2017, he was concerned that the COVID-19 control measures instituted in compliance with the directive by the Ashanti Regional Security Council would likely negatively impact on the production levels.
“I don’t want to be a prophet of doom but from the look of things I’ll say yes. Yes because currently, Ejura Market is closed and farmers who normally store their produce so that they’ll sell during the planting season to buy some inputs, especially fertilizer, most of them are unable to sell their produce to buy fertilizer. It has reflected in the quantity of fertilizer being consumed as at now compared to the previous year”, Mr. Adda predicted.
The Municipal Agric Director advised the farmers to procure and apply especially the Urea fertilizer during the minor planting season in order to close the maize and rice production shortfall during the main season. He appealed also to the government to supply the farmers the production inputs on credit instead of the subsidy as a result of their hardships caused by the COVID-19 control measures.
The Ejura-Sekyedumase Municipal Assembly, in complying with a directive by the Ashanti REGSEC closed down the local trading centre about two months ago. The Ejura Market attracts traders from all parts of Ghana and from some of the neighbouring countries to trade in particularly maize, rice and beans. For now, local traders do business at the alternative small market centre, while some farmers have resorted to the roadside to catch the attention of prospective buyers. The Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Salisu Bamba, in an interview with GBC News said the Assembly has no option than to keep up with the COVID-19 preventive measures to protect life.
“every year, the number of farmers that go into farming or expand their farms in the Municipality increases. But, this year, for the COVID-19 it looks like we have a few slow activities in the farming activity because just yesterday, we tried to compare the 1st quarter this year and 1st quarter this year and we realized that most farmers are not actually buying farming inputs like fertilizers”, Mr. Bamba lamented.
The MCE emphasized that “we were a little bit afraid looking at the number of people who come to the Municipality every week, so if we don’t close down our market, the likelihood that there would be very big numbers of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Municipality would be high.”