By Gideon Ebbah, GNA
Anyinasuso (Ash), July 3, GNA - The Cocoa Health and Extension Division (CHED) of COCOBOD, is working to encourage farmers to form Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) and co-operative groups, as a strategy to address agricultural extension deficits in the country, to scale up agricultural production.
Mr. Kwadwo Danso, the Ashanti Regional CHED Manager, who disclosed this said, mobilizing farmers into such umbrella groups, would among other benefits, facilitate the smooth flow and sharing of expert extension information, as well as government policies, to a large number of farmers within a relatively short time.
He said most of the individual farmers are scattered in sometimes hard- to- reach communities - a situation that makes access to extension services and other information that is vital to best agronomic practices, inaccessible to them.
The Regional CHED Director was speaking to the Ghana News Agency on the sideline of a District Farmers’ rally at Anyinasuso, a farming community in the Ahafo-Ano North Municipality in Ashanti.
According to him, the move would assist to reverse the current woeful ratio of one Agricultural Extension Agent (AEA) to 1,500 farmers, as indicated in recent statistics by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
These advantages of the formation of farmers’ groups, he said, would ensure easy access to credit inputs and other safety nets from the government, financial institutions and other non-state actors.
“It would also provide a platform to give the farmers one common voice to strengthen their bargaining power as a formidable pressure group whiles also strengthening their capacities to influence government decisions, and strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of farmers’ activities as well as their challenges, for a timely redress”, he added.
He said currently, COCOBOD had so far facilitated the formation of 459 farmer co-operatives nationwide with a membership of 96,492 which comprises 29,552 females and 66,940 males.
‘‘In the Ashanti Region, we have 84 farmer co-operatives with a total membership of 9,487 comprising of 5,475 males and 4,012 females.
There are also 61 farmer Associations in the Region with a membership of 3,748 with 1,428, being females and 2,320 males’’, the Ashanti Regional CHED Manager hinted.
Mr. Danso also stated that with respect to Farmer Associations, COCOBOD had also facilitated the formation of 830 farmer associations with a total membership of 44,796.
Mr. Alfred Kwasi Attefah, the Tepa District Cocoa Officer urged the farmers to register and participate in the farmers’ groups meetings, adding that, it was the medium COCOBOD intends to channel most of its extension duties and supports through to farmers.
Nana Kofi Nti, the Ahafo-Ano North – B District Chief Farmer, urged the farmers to cooperate with their community chief farmers and extension agents in the registration and participation in the farmers’ groups