Accra, July 10, GNA “ Mr James Avedzi Klustse, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance, has assured small holder farmers that government would not impose tax on imported fertiliser.
He said the tax on fertiliser came up in parliament for debate due to the smuggling of the commodity.
Mr Avedzi made this known when the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) held a policy dialogue with the Parliamentary Select Committees of Finance, Agriculture and Government Assurance in Accra on Tuesday.
The PFAG used the policy dialogue, supported by OXFAM-Ghana, a non-governmental organisation and the BUSAC Fund, to present the Farmers Manifesto for Election 2012 and beyond and research findings on agriculture extension and challenges of extension.
Mr Joseph Awantungo, a Lead Researcher at Pinnacle Investment Group Limited, said the survey findings indicated that only about 10 per cent of farmers were getting extension services as the current farmer to extension ratio stands at 1:3000.
He said the small holder farmers have expressed their preference for the services of female Agriculture Extension officers since they have enough time to explain issues compared to their male counterparts.
śIt is established that few women are involved in agricultural extension service but most women farmers prefer the services of their colleagues,ť he added.
He said even though all the farmers interviewed admitted they have heard of extension officers, the majority of them never had the opportunity to access their services.
Mr Awantungo said farmers have also acknowledged the importance of extension services in agronomic practice, indicating that śthrough extension officers we get to learn new methods of farming particularly in how to control diseasesť.
śThey also admit that the development of agriculture largely depends on access to new technologies and information,ť he said.
He recommended that agriculture training institutions should be made to increase the intake of female extension officers training ratio from five per cent every year to 50 per cent.
He also said agriculture extension officers should be posted after their training as done in the instance of teacher, nurses and other professionals.
He called on government to address some of the constraints of the extension officers to increase their activities in crop production to feed the nation.
Mr Edward Kareweh, Deputy General Secretary General Agriculture Workers Union of Trade Union Congress, who made a presentation on the manifesto, said the document seeks to influence political parties and also hold government accountable on the delivery on small scale farmers™ priorities in the development agenda.
The manifesto also provides a platform of common set of demands for the achievement of food security, poverty reduction and sustainable national development.
He proposed to parliament to enact a legislative instrument, which would compel financial institutions to allocate some of their loan portfolios to investments in Agriculture.
He said government and the political parties must develop coordinated and integrated strategies to build farmers™ resilience by adapting to climate change and investing in disaster risk reduction.
Mr Kareweh said investment in agriculture must involve women and address their needs within agriculture and related sectors, since they are key to food security.
He said government must put in place a comprehensive National Land Use Plan by the end of 2013 to ensure the tenure security of social groups such as women, young persons, tenants and pastoralists.
He called on the parliamentary select Committee on agriculture to establish a gender sensitive sub-committee on small scale agriculture and must be more assertive in monitoring agriculture-related budgets with the view to ensure that they are directed to the appropriate farmers.