The Tempene District Director of Agriculture, Ibrahim Jamaldeen, says, the district lacks agricultural extension officers to meet the increasing numbers of farmers in the area.
The district has a total of 31 extension officers against the required number of 70 officers.
The situation, according to Mr. Jamaldeen, was negatively affecting the productivity of both agric staff and farmers to increase food production in the district.
Speaking to A1 Radio at an annual joint review meeting organized by the Upper East Department of Agriculture, Mr. Jamaldeen, bemoaned the worrying farmer to extension officers ratio which stands at 1:6917 and appealed for government intervention.
“My district has over 90 percent of its populace that are into agricultural activities; in terms of crop production, livestock production, and other agribusinesses. However, the staff strength is not adequate in the Agricultural Department considering the number of farmers in the District”.
Mr. Jamaldeen, added that, despite the staffing challenge his department faces, his outfit was not relaxed in ensuring that adequate measures were taken to impact farmers’ based knowledge in agriculture.
“We could all recalled that some few months ago some farmers were suffering over swine flu infestation on their livestock across the country but due to our efforts and continue sensitization to our livestock farmers, we did not record any livestock disease infestations; not even the swine flu.”
Upper East Regional Director of Agriculture (MoFA), Francis Ennor, said, efforts have been put in place to address challenges.
“Projected farmer population is about 1,058,235 (476,206 males & 582,029 females). About 80% of the population is directly or indirectly engaged in the Agriculture Value Chain which needs an increase in Agricultural Extension Agencies (AEAs).
The Department has a staff strength of 577 (464 males, 113 females). 153 (132 males, 21 females) AEAs are at post out of 250 AEAs required. Averagely, AEA farmer ratio is 1: 6,917. Some districts such as Talensi, Bawku Municipal, and others do not have Subject Matter Specialist. Hence we required additional field staff of about 100 including Subject Matter Specialist.”
Mr. Ennor, however, entreated the extension officers not to use the inadequate staffing strength to relax on the job, but rather, increase their efforts in sensitizing farmers on good farming practices to boost production and food security
The Joint Sector Review brought together industrial players in the agricultural sector to look at challenges of farmers , and the possible adaptable measures to be considered to improve the food chain production.