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Let’s banish hunger: Planting for Food/Jobs is a failure-Abass Sbaabe writes

Vegetables | Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Every child has the right to good food, irrespective of the financial statuses of their parents. The most painful thing any child could go through is the pangs of hunger. The government and its appointees have a role to step in to prevent any Ghanaian child from sleeping on an empty stomach.

As a child, l suffered terrible hunger. I could live on a morsel of food from morning till evening. I turned into a “clever scavenger”. I never ate on a refuse dump but l cleared any bite of food found on the ground. I scanned my environment to make sure nobody was looking before l picked a morsel of food from the ground. I would rob it against my dirty clothes to make sure it was clean from ants and other bugs before l dropped it into my mouth. Sometimes, the bite of food would be too small to run through my throat and into my stomach.

Another trick for picking food on the ground was to kick it with my leg like one kicks a football to move it away from public view, scanned it carefully before dropping it into my mouth. On one of such occasions, l hit a piece of sugarcane from the public view and chased it to where it dropped. I picked it and without proper scrutiny, took a big bite of it gluttonously. To my utter discomfiture, the piece of sugarcane contained no juice but urine! Apparently somebody had urinated onto it before l found it. It was too late to block the urine from running through my throat!

I suffered hunger and this took me through a furnace and refined me. When l became an adult and took up a responsible position in government, those memories jumped at me from time to time. I have always yearned to help banish hunger from our society. With the right leadership policies, we can help reduce the incidence of hunger to the barest minimum and to fight to eliminate it eventually.

One of the easiest means of making food available to the ordinary Ghanaian child is for the government to initiate a special project through the District Assemblies. We should plant fruits along all our avenues and roads, leading to each and every school, especially schools that are located at the outskirts of towns.

 In French speaking countries, this simple policy works and during mango seasons, school children feed on mangoes on their way to and fro school. If we use fruits as ornamental trees, they will serve two purposes – beautification of our towns and villages and provision of good for our people. If a mango season lasts for at least two months and the needy child’s hunger is reduced by those number of months, we will be on our way to banishing hunger.

Operation Feed Yourself was a policy initiated by the Acheampong regime. This was an undemocratic military regime without many “booklong” people but the policy assisted in reducing hunger in the country. What prevents us from going back to this policy? The government can go back to this policy by first tasking all its appointees to take the lead. If each appointee of the government is to farm just ten (10) acres, how many acres of farmlands are we likely to get at the end of the year from operatives of the government? All MPs, all DCEs, all Ministers and Deputy Ministers, all spokespersons and advisors of the government, all appointees at the office of the president, etc. I can bet on my last pesewa that thousands of acres will be cultivated.

We then move to the Security agencies. How many times have we invited soldiers to go and defend the territorial integrity of our borders? Honestly, we can call these forces to fight hunger to reduce crime.

The Planting for Food and Jobs has not yielded the required dividends. The government invested over 600 million Ghana Cedis into this program but we do not have enough to show for this. Fertilizers purchased under the program are being stolen or smuggled outside the country. For instance, in Bono Region alone, 4,659 bags of fertilizers were stolen.

If a quarter of this colossal sum of money being sunk into Planting for Food and jobs is invested in acquiring sophisticated farming machinery for the Ghana Armed Forces, they can produce enough food to feed almost all our schools and hospitals in the country.

Another quarter of the funds for Planting for Food and Jobs can purchase at least two bulldozers and not less than 10 tractors for each of the District Assemblies in the country.

Apart from the Northern sector of the country that has lands that are ploughbale, lands in the Southern Sector are not because of the forest. The government can use the bulldozers acquired to help in removing stumps of trees in forest zones to make it possible for tractors to work on such lands. The use of tractors acquired for the District Assemblies could be rented out at subsidized prices to farmers. This will reduce the drudgery of work since it eliminates the use of hoes and cutlasses. Many young ones would then be attracted to come on board to help feed the nation, fight hunger in the country and export more food to earn more.



About the Author:

Comrade Abass Sbaabe is a Former District Chief Executive for Fanteakwa District Assembly(Ghana). He is a Consummate Writer and CEO of Sorlim Farms & Lands Limited in the Eastern Region of Ghana.

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Mr.Sbaabe on one of his farms Call/WhatsApp on +233-243173375

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Finding a lucrative spot in sweet potato farming – Farmer highlights its profitability

Finding a lucrative spot in sweet potato farming - Farmer highlights its profitability

Emmanuel Ashiabie has been a farmer for the past 30 years and has in recent years found a sweet spot in the production of sweet potatoes, describing it as a lucrative venture.

Based in a town known as Aberful; Awutu Senya in the Central Region, Mr. Ashiabie who started farming at age 19 is currently promoting the cultivation and consumption of sweet potatoes for maximum profit.

The farmer in an interview with the Ghanaian Farmer TV Show said he is happy with his harvest.

A tuber of sweet potato takes only three to four months to mature and in a good year, Mr. Emmanuel Ashiabie makes about GHC10,000 on an acre of sweet potato farm.

“An acre of sweet potato farm in good season can give you 50 of the 100KG sacks. And the price range is from GH100 to GH200 depending on the season and its availability,” he told the host of Ghanaian Farmer, Enyonam Manye.

Sweet potatoes require fewer inputs and less labour compared to other food crops like maize and cassava; this explains why the farmer diverted into sweet potatoes farming on a large scale.

“I was much more into cassava and maize farming and sweet potatoes were on a small piece of land. I started to do it on a large scale after I realised it’s more profitable with the ready market,” Mr. Ashiabie explained.

According to the International Potato Centre, an agricultural research organization,  sweet potatoes are also hardy and more tolerant to harsh conditions like dry spells and poor soils.

The tuber can also stay in the soil long after maturity, making the time of harvest less critical.

Mr. Emmanuel Ashiabie who manages Emash Farms threw a challenge to other farmers to invest in sweet potato production as the profit is enormous.

While explaining why he chose to plant the white-fleshed type, he stated that it’s quite easy and doesn’t require a lot of water to perform well unlike the orange-fleshed one.

“In a good season, you can get more than 10 tubers of sweet potato on vine after harvest. If it’s affected by bad weather patterns, you should be getting five or six. Even with this, you won’t make losses.”

“The best season to plant sweet potatoes and get a good price is between May and September.  It can be grown twice in a year.”


Meanwhile, Mr. Ashiabie highlighted the challenges he faces as a farmer and  one of the major ones is how real estate companies have taken over majority of the farmlands.

“Farmlands have become scarce because the estate companies have bought almost all of them. I used to rent 10 acres of land but that’s not the case anymore. We can’t get it to rent like before.

He appealed to the district to provide them with farming machinery including tractors as it is always a challenge hiring one during the farming season.

Forming Association

 To help address the challenges in getting financial support, Mr. Ashiabie has planned to form a farmer-based organisation for potato producers. He said this will also help address poor pricing from the buyers.

“Potatoes are a cash-crop which can also be added to Ghana’s commodities for export.  A lot of people in this area have stopped maize and cassava farming and are into potato production,” he added.

He acknowledged that the government’s subsidy on fertilizer has been helpful.

He expressed gratitude to Crocodile Matchets for supporting farmers in diverse ways.

Value Addition To Sweet Potatoes

Aside from selling sweet potatoes in its raw form to local markets, the farmers are optimistic that the establishment of a factory in the Awutu Senya area can help sell value-added products made from sweet potatoes.

This can include sweet potato flour for bread as one of its products. Sweet potato flour can also go into snacks like cakes and pies.


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Bird Flu outbreak: Limit movement of poultry ahead of Eid-ul-Adha – Poultry Farmers

What's The Best Pen For 1000 Bird Poultry Farm? (Pictures needed)

The Greater Accra Poultry Farmers Association is urging poultry farmers to be cautious and vigilant to avert a further spread of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza disease, otherwise known as Bird Flu, in the country.

After the outbreak of Bird Flu in parts of Ghana, the association has said education will be key in overcoming this challenge to the poultry industry.

“First and foremost, we are going to educate our farmers on the need to heighten their biosecurity… then we are also going to educate people buying from [them],” President of the Greater Accra Poultry Farmers Association, Michael Nyarko Ampem said to Citi News.

“More importantly, we encourage our members to reduce the movement of birds especially as Tuesday is a holiday, and we are going to have Eid-ul-Adha,” he added.

Mr. Ampem also stressed the need for better vigilance of the affected regions.

“We are going to encourage that some of these things are really monitored so that we do not transfer the flu from one region to another, but it is contained in the districts and regions where they are found.”

According to the Veterinary Services Directorate, the Bird Flu was detected in the Greater Accra, Central and Volta regions.

The outbreak of the disease follows the detection of similar cases in neighbouring countries since January 2021.

Cases of the Bird Flu disease were previously recorded in Ghana in 2007, 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Following the recent outbreak, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture announced a total ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products from neighbouring countries where the prevalence of the disease has been confirmed.

A ban on the movement of poultry and poultry products within and from the affected regions and districts to other parts of the country, and strict inspection and issuance of permits to cover the movement of all poultry and poultry products from unaffected parts of the country has also been put in place.

In addition, the ministry said it has intensified public awareness and sensitisation by Regional Coordinating Councils and District Assemblies, especially in the affected areas.


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Ministry announces Bird Flu in Ghana; bans importation of poultry from neighboring countries

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has confirmed the outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza disease, also known as Bird Flu, in the Greater Accra, Central and Volta regions.

It has, consequently, declared a total ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products from neighbouring countries where the prevalence of the disease has been confirmed.

It has also placed a ban on the movement of poultry and poultry products within and from the affected regions and districts to other parts of the country, and strict
inspection and issuance of permits to cover the movement of all poultry and poultry products from unaffected parts of the country.

These were announced in a statement, signed on behalf of the Minister, Dr Patrick Abakeh, Director, Veterinary Services Directorate, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

“The zoonotic nature of the disease calls for public alert and vigilance to mitigate the possible impact on the poultry industry and public-health, in general, it cautioned.

It advised citizens to report any unusual deaths of domestic poultry and wild birds to the nearest Veterinary office and public authorities for public safety.

They should also avoid the handling of dead birds with bare hands and consume only well-cooked poultry meat and poultry products.

“The outbreak of the disease follows the detection of similar cases in neighbouring countries since January, 202,” it said.

“Through effective surveillance and disease control management, the Veterinary Services Directorate has prevented the extension of the disease into Ghana until now.”

It noted that cases of the Bird Flu disease were previously recorded in 2007, 2015, 2016 and 2018, with significant economic impact on affected poultry farmers.

The statement said the Ministry was also intensifying public awareness and sensitisation through the Regional Coordinating Councils and District Assemblies, especially in the affected areas.

It, however, urged the public not to panic because the Veterinary Services Directorate was taking all the necessary steps to contain the outbreak and spread of the disease.

It urged the public to contact Dr Abakeh on phone number 020-8240734 for further information.

The Center for Disease Control explains that the disease is caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses.

These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.

Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans.

However, sporadic human infections with avian flu viruses have occurred.


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