Bolgatanga, Sept 22, GNA - Rice farmers at Fumbisi Valleys in the Builsa District, have appealed to Government to decentralize the operations of National Food Buffer Stock Company and create more purchasing outlets.
The farmers made the appeal on Thursday in Bolgatanga during the dissemination on research findings on market of rice conducted by Mr Richard Ananga, a business service provider of BUSAC.
According to the farmers the absence of NAFCO purchasing outlets at the Fumbisi Valleys, was making middle men to exploit them since they used wrong scales.
The NAFCO is currently centred in Bolgatanga where staff travel with trucks to go and purchase the farm produce from the Fumbisi area.
Alhaji Braima Yeji, a 60 year old farmer, who farms 30 acre of land of rice, said as a result of lack of market of the produce most of them could not pay for their children school fees and the loan they contracted from banks to do the farming.
“We cannot pay our school fees; we cannot pay the bank loans we took for farming”.
Alhaji Yeji said another major factor that had been confronting them as farmers was the bad nature of the road, stressing that middle men often used that as an excuse to buy their produce at lower price.
He appealed to Government to make tractor services available to them since that was another major problem confronting them and stated that majority of farmers this year could not farm because of that.
“If Government puts its eyes on the large tracks of valleys in Fumbisi we can produce more rice to consume locally and export. The five combined harvesters provided by the Government are not also enough.”
Madam Hajia Mariama, a 58-year old farmer, said most women relied on rice cultivation for their livelihoods and yet they could not maximize profit after suffering to farm.
Mr Eric Dalaba, Secretary of the Ateeletaaba Cooperative Farmers of Fumbisi, said rice farmers in the area were farming large trucks of rice in Wiesi, Kunkua, Gbedembelsi, Fumbisi valleys and needed the Buffer Stock Company urgently.
He said his outfit had already acquired a land for any Buffer Zone Outlet that was prepared to stay in the area to purchase their crops.
The research revealed that 99% of the farmers sold their produce to surrounding local markets such as the Fumbisi and Sandema markets. Data further revealed that the farmers are beset with the issue of low prices which is basically determined by the market women.
“They also experienced low patronage from institutions such as the school feeding, which could have otherwise been a potential source of market for their produce. Farmers do not also have a standardized measurement scheme for valuing the produce for fair pricing, this often leads to cheating”.
It also revealed that fifty nine per cent of the farmers did not know of the existence of NAFCO, which could serve as a potential source of market for their produce and as a result did not sell to the company.
Also 41% are aware of the existence of the company but finds it difficult to utilize the company's services. “Their inability to access the service of NAFCO is attributed to issues relating to non-availability of the company's outlet at Fumbisi, bad roads and high transport charges to Bolgatanga”.
It recommended that Government should extend the services of the NAFCO to Fumbisi. “Extending the services of NAFCO will therefore provide a good avenue for the sale of farm produce and therefore increase their revenue base. Increasing their revenue base will go a long way to offer the needed cash to finance farming activities and also meet the needs of the many dependents that farmers have to contend with. It shall also provide Revenue Avenue for the newly created district”.
The research suggested that NAFCO should contract food traders to buy on behalf of NAFCO at the same conditions from farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector should organize training in the area on the best and improved methods of farming.