Some farming communities have turned down vegetable seeds meant to be supplied to them for under government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme because they don’t suit local conditions.
The communities are thus using their own means to get hold of seeds to plant, a development which could encourage the use of unimproved, low yielding seeds.
They are not excited about the development, as some are being forced to rely on local varieties which may not provide them with good enough yield.
Government earlier this year rolled out the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme with the objective of increasing production of some of the country’s major crops to make the nation food secure.
Under the programme, farmers are being supplied with improved seeds and fertilisers at highly subsidized rates, as well as extension services. This year, 200,000 maize, soyabean, rice, sorghum and vegetable farmers are expected to benefit from the programme.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture Dr. AkotoOwusuAfriyielast month expressed regret that local seed producers could not meet demand for improved seeds under the programme, forcing government to import somefrom neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso.
But agricultural officialssay some of the seeds meant to be supplied to them are not suitable enough to grow locally. They want government to consult them adequately before deciding on the inputs to supply them.
In the Central Region, Assin South District Director of Agric Jacob Sackey explained: “We opted (to take only) maize and rice seeds. For the vegetables, because the varieties that the government was able to providewasn’t very suitable here, we didn’t ask for the seeds.”
The agric officials are worried the tomato seeds being supplied under the programme will not be able to effectively resist pests that attack the vegetable, hence the decision not to accept the seeds.
“Nematodes and wilt have been affecting tomatoes here. So, farmers developed their own seeds called ‘adjoba’. But we haven’t gotten seed breeders to multiply that for us… The varieties that government has are not suitable for us here,”Mr. Sackey explained.
“The other vegetable seeds they brought were onion and chili pepper. But over here, they prefer ‘kpakposhito.’ So, maybe what we have to advice government is that the plant breeders should go in rather for the seeds that farmers and consumers here like,” he added.
The farmers also lament that seeds and other inputs were brought in late. Although farmers started planting their on the fields in March following first rain, inputs including seeds and fertilisers under the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme were supplied in the middle of April,weeks after planting had started.
The Planting for Food and Jobs Programme has been hit with a number of teething challenges since it was rolled out. Various stakeholders including the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana have complained they were not consulted adequately before the start of the programme.
Minister of State in charge of Agriculture Dr. NuraGyille also recently raised concerns the programme was struggling to register the expected 200, 000 farmers targeted under the policy.