A survey conducted by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has recommended that agriculture sector service providers be treated as essential services because of their crucial role in food production.

It argues that if such institutions are treated as such, government will be willing to address their plight with urgency.

The survey was conducted between July and September 2012 amongst farmers in areas considered to be food basket zones and animal husbandry in four regions across the country comprising Upper East, Northern, Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra regions.

The areas were Garu Tempani in the Upper East Region, Tugu, Nantong and Juni in the Northern Region, Techiman and Nkoranza in the Brong Ahafo Region and, Ada, Ashigbekope, Ashiaman and Osu-doku in the Greater Accra Region.

It was validated in April 2013 and presented at a community based extension systems sensitization workshop organized by PFAG in partnership with CARE International in Tamale on Friday.

The workshop was attended by small-holder farmers and agric extension agents drawn from the three northern regions and Brong Ahafo.

PFAG, which received support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC) to conduct the survey, hopes to use the findings as empirical evidence to influence government policy for improved agricultural productivity and living conditions of small-holder farmers.

The survey found that the ratio of extension services to farmers was 1:3000 with some farmers never benefiting from any extension services within a whole year.

It also found that ?lack of adequate support, such as computers and internet access for the officers to update their knowledge in new technologies and information on farming,? were amongst the constraints facing extension services delivery in the country.

The survey recommended that ?The agriculture training institutions should increase the intake of extension trainees by five per cent annually.?

It said, ?With improved remuneration, intake of female trainees should increase to 50 per cent since there are more women in farming compared to men.?

It said, ?The extension officers should be posted after training as it is with teachers, and health workers if government really wants to support small-holder farmers to improve their capacity.?

It said more priority should be given to establishing more agricultural institutions, allocation of more funds to agric research institutions and improved incentives to agric extension agents.

In a remark, Mr Mohammed Adam Nashiru, President of PFAG, said there was the need to increase the number of agric extension agents to ensure improved livelihood for farmers in the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority regions.

Source: GNA

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