The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in the Builsa North District of the Upper East Region, is distributing cashew seedlings to farmers in the District under the government’s flagship programme,‘Planting for Export and Rural Development’ (PERD).
Mr Ibrahim Sumara Alidu, the Builsa North District Director of MoFA, who disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at Sandema, said the Department, with support from the District Assembly, was able to procure cashew seeds to support cashew farmers in the District.
He said with the procured seeds, the Department was able to nurse and raise over 15,000 cashew seedlings for distribution to farmers, “We followed up with some technical advice to farmers on the techniques involved in raising these seedlings to maturity.”
Mr Alidu said interested farmers were told, before distribution, to acquire their own pieces of farm lands before the seedlings were given out to them, and explained that cashew was a perineal crop which could survive for several years unlike annual crops.
He said interested farmers were registered by the District Agricultural Extension Officers based on their communities, adding that since the launch of the PERD programme by Mr David Amoabil Afoko, the District Chief Executive, farmers continuously troop into offices of MoFA for their share of the seedlings.
The Director said cashew was one of the exportable crops identified among other tree crops, and grew well in the agro ecological zone, “it tolerates the environment that is why we are raising seedlings and distributing to farmers to go and grow and nurture them to maturity.”
Mr Alidu was hopeful that “in about two to three years’ time, cashew farmers will derive the desired benefits of the crop.”
He said PERD was intended to promote rural and economic growth, enhance household incomes and ensure environmental sustainability, “If these farmers are able to nurture the seedlings, it will go a long way to help them economically.”
Mr Alidu said the District was a beneficiary of the ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs’ programme, and indicated that a list of farmers from various communities within the District were screened and 30 farmers who met the criteria were selected and their names submitted to the Regional MoFA office.
“A team from the Regional office also came and did further checks on the list that we submitted and they are satisfied. So we are now waiting for the animals to be brought to the Region, then we can have our share and distribute to our farmers.”
Asked if the COVID-19 pandemic had the tendency to affect general crop production in the District, the Director said even though it may affect production, “I believe with the necessary sensitisation and education we have given, we should be able to have good production this year”.
He acknowledged the efforts of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana who organised COVID-19 workshop for farmers in the area and supported the Department with some logistics.
Mr Alidu said farmers were discouraged from sharing farm tools and the act of drinking water with common cups as they used to do before the onset of COVID-19, and urged them to use their face masks and observe the social distancing protocol as they worked on their farms.