Sunyani, Sept. 26, GNA - Mr Yiadom Boakye Boateng, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary Aspirant for Asutifi South Constituency on Tuesday expressed concern about the politicisation of the mass cocoa spraying exercise in the country.
He said most cocoa farmers complain that the spraying gangs refused to spray some farms suspected of belonging to opponents of the ruling government; whilst others charged the farmers before spraying their farms as well as selling the insecticides to individuals at the expense of the farmers.
Mr Boateng expressed the concern at a meeting of Parliamentary Aspirants and Smallholder Farmers at Sunyani, on the theme “Smallholder Agriculture Sensitive Manifestoes and Party Pledges to Reduce Poverty”.
The meeting, attended by 120 farmers from six farmers groups in the Region, was organised by Action Aid Ghana, to provide an opportunity for the farmers to express their concerns and make demands on the need to increase investment for smallholder farms.
In addition, it would offer an opportunity to jointly identify issues that would contribute significantly to reducing poverty and food insecurity and to also acquaint themselves with peculiar issues that affect smallholder agriculture at the constituency level.
Mr Boateng pointed out that cocoa was a foreign exchange earner for the country therefore; the activities of such spraying gangs should be condemned and stopped.
He assured that when elected, cocoa roads in the constituency would be rehabilitated to enable cocoa farmers to have easy access to the depots.
“It is pathetic for sick farmers as well as their pregnant wives to be conveyed on bicycles to nearby health facilities because vehicles could not ply the roads due to its deplorable nature,” he added.
Mr Boateng suggested that since ‘galamsey’ operations could not be controlled in the country, it was time lands were allocated for such activities to prevent the indiscriminate destruction of land which affects farming.
Mr Phillip Awuah, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Aspirant for Sunyani East Constituency said farmers concerns needed to be addressed to enable them to increase food production.
He urged farmers to form groups to enable them to have easy access to loans to expand their farms.
Mrs Grace Tettey, Progressive People’s Party (PPP) Parliamentary Aspirant for Sunyani East Constituency said the performance of extension officers in some constituencies in the Region were not encouraging since farmers needed to be abreast with new technologies and skills for increased food production.
Ms Christina Amarchey, Brong Ahafo Regional Programme Manager of Action Aid Ghana said for some years now the NGO had been working with farmers to reduce poverty and create opportunities for farmers to create wealth.
She announced that the NGO had implemented projects to support poor smallholder farmers to increase access to and control of lands to influence agricultural policies for people to realise their rights to food in the country.
Ms Amarchey noted that farmers were prepared to improve their production but were facing challenges such as access to inputs, extension officers, credits, markets, transport, infrastructure and climate change.
She said farmers must be supported to modernise their operations in order to grow viable enterprises that could generate enough income to sustain the needs of their households.
A communiqué adopted at the meeting were presented to the seven candidates.