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Professor Kanton: propels formation of National Farmers Union to advance agricultural promotion

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A former Research Scientist with the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Professor Roger Kanton, has proposed the formation of a national union of Ghanaian farmers to push for better agriculture policies and support systems for farmers across the country. 

He said the body must be non-partisan and composed of the various agriculture value chain actors who would be united in pursuit of a common goal of addressing the bottlenecks in the sector. Additionally, he said, the union needed to have national, regional and district offices across the country devoid of external influences.

Prof. Kanton made the call when he delivered a public lecture at a forum organized by the alumni of Swedru Senior High School (SWESCO) last Monday to discuss the state of the country’s agriculture. The forum, which was dubbed: “Swedru Conversation”, was held on the theme “Feeding ourselves as a nation; perspective on revolutionizing our agricultural fortunes”.

Revolutionary policies

Prof. Kanton observed that given that the agriculture sector contributed more than 20 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and was the mainstay of the economy, it was important for revolutionary policies that placed the farmers at the center to be rolled out. In that regard, he called on the government to scrap taxes on the importation of agricultural machinery and equipment to make it easier for importers to bring in modern machinery and equipment to boost agriculture.

He said ‘’such a policy would help farmers to make a transition to mechanized agriculture and improve their productivity’’. The agriculture expert also advocated a policy that would ensure the establishment of a fertilizer manufacturing company in the country to boost local production and supply the input to farmers. He stressed the need for proper and functional irrigation schemes, dedicated funds for agriculture research, climate-smart policies and robust extension services to help revolutionize the agriculture sector. 

Radical transformation

An associate professor in soil fertility at the Soil Science Department of Cape Coast University, Prof. Kwame Agyei Frimpong, stressed the need for radical transformation to help rebrand the agriculture sector. He said ‘’the time had come for agriculture to be viewed as a sustainable business that required deliberate investment’’. He also said ‘’progressive agriculture policies must be targeted at investment in the value chain and development of infrastructure for the storage and distribution of agricultural produce’’.

Agriculture education

For his part, a Professor at the Department of Agriculture Economics and Extension at the College of Agriculture at Cape Coast University, Prof. Festus Annor-Frimpong, ‘’said revolutionizing agriculture was a call to prioritizing the production and consumption of local food’’. He said ‘’it was worrying that apart from maize, yam, cassava and plantain that the country was self-sufficient in a chunk of the other food commodities were imported at exorbitant costs to the state’’.

Additional source: Graphic online