To complement and accomplish the objectives of many agricultural projects in the country, especially the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARDSC), Ghana has launched its Maize Stakeholders Association.
SARD SC aims at enhancing food and nutrition security and contributing to reducing poverty in selected Regional Membership Countries(RMCs) in Africa including Ghana.
The Association, funded by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), through SARD SC Project, comprises prominent people along the maize value chain such as researchers, producers, input dealers, farmers, end users especially the Poultry farmers Association etc.
The newly launched Association is aimed at establishing strategic alliance that link all these stakeholders along the maize value chain to create new market potentials and render the needed support and services to the “poor” maize farmers in the country.
The Country Coordinator, SARD SC, who doubles as the immediate past head of Cereals Department at the Crops Research Institute of Ghana (CRI-Fumesua), Dr Kwadwo Obeng Antwi revealed that though Ghana currently produces 1.7 tons of maize per hectare as compared to 1 ton/ha in the 70’s, due to the use of improved maize cultivars with superior yields and tolerance to the major maize diseases and pest, there is still a wide yield gap to be filed, hence the formation of the Association.
“Yields in farmers fields have increased from less than 1 ton/ha in 1979 to the current 1.7 tons/ha due mainly to the use of improved maize cultivars but compared with yields of other Countries you will agree with me that there is a wide yield gap that needs to be filled.”
He pointed out that maize is the most important cereal grain in terms of total production and utilization for human consumption. He therefore charged the Association not to rest on its oars but work hard to help transform the maize industry in order to enhance competitiveness of the product.
Dr. Sam Ajala, a Nigeria maize commodity Specialist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture(IITA), noted that Ghana could increase maize yield and compete with other African Countries when it identifies areas best suited for maize cultivation.
He was worried why maize farmers in the country have been grappling with fragmented market prices and urged the “New Born” Association to immediately develop pragmatic measures to intervene what he describes as an unfortunate situation.
Mr. Asante Krobea, Director, Crops Service Department, cautioned the Association to be devoid of political interference and suggested that the Association must be extended to the district level.
The Ghana National Maize Stakeholders Association, is currently under the management of a five (5) member interim executive committee including Mr. Kwadwo Asante, the immediate past National Chaiman of the Ghana National Poultry Farmers Association (GNPFA), as the President, Mr. Christian Badu, a Crop protection expert and input dealer at RMA Gh. Ltd, as the Vice President,
Mr. Christian Badu Marfo, a farmer, as the Secretary, Mrs. Afia Owusu Nyantakyi, a maize processor and member of Ghana Input Dealers Association(Cape Coast), as the Treasurer and Mr. Stephen Debre, a Business Development Manager, as the Organiser.