The Development Research and Advocacy Centre, an NGO in the Upper East has noted with concern the looming famine in the Upper East region of Ghana. Our findings from relevant sources indicate that the Upper East region is likely to be hit with severe food shortage in the coming few months. Expert information from the extension division of the Ministry of agriculture of the Upper East region has confirmed that the region is unable to sow its stable crop:? late and early millet, thereby pushing the region?s food basket balance sheet into red.? With only a little over two rainfall months left, all indications are that the region is heading towards severe famine. We therefore call on government and well-meaning institutions and individuals to act calculatedly to prepare for the looming disaster and prevent an embarrassment.

We are aware that government is doing its best to boost agriculture so as to make food affordable and accessible to all. The provision of tractors, combine harvesters, the subsidy on fertilizer and the establishment of SADA among others by government are all investments in the right direction. The glooming picture that stares the people of the region in the face however indicates that a lot is still left to be done.

Currently, there are three major dams in the three northern regions of Ghana namely the Bontanga Dam in Northern region, and the Tono and Vea dams in the Upper East region which could facilitate the production of adequate food to meet needs of the three regions and beyond. However, these have failed to deliver because of the numerous challenges confronting them. Currently, some infrastructural challenges confronting irrigation in the area include silted dams, ravaged canals and laterals and the absence of a regulatory framework to guide the conduct of farmers and extension workers regarding water utilization and management of the season. The Irrigation Company Upper Regions (ICOUR Ltd ) which was set up to manage irrigation farming at the Vea and Tono dams started beautifully under expatriate management but soon got badly ?wounded?with the departure of the expatriates; which illustrates a sad state of leadership. For now, ICOUR is redundant while its staffs continue to draw salaries without commensurate input and output.? Apart frommaximizing the use of our existing dams, we also call on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to explore more sustainable sources of water and cultural practices to improve yield and food security.? The MOFA, the CSIR and other agriculture based research institutions should also work towards getting shorter gestation period cereals and nuts, and drought resistant crops for the north since the raining seasonshave continued to reduce year by year with no sign of improvement in the future.? Until MOFA and the research a institutions come out with the remedial activities we call on farmers in the Upper East region to consider switching to maize cultivation next farming season since early millet, a staple crop in the area, is no longer viable because of the shorter wet seasons.

At a time when most donors and bilateral partners have decided to pull out of Ghana because of her ascension to lower middle income status our inability to successfully manage food shortages and eliminate hunger in some parts of the country could be an indictment more so, where Ghana herself believes their lower middle income status is not just a perception but hardearned achievement. DRAC believes Ghana has what it takes to provide enough for her people in view of the human and material resources at our disposal; what is necessary is setting our priorities right and pursing them with a sense of discipline.


Source:?Development Research and Advocacy Centre (DRAC)


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