- On July 31, 2016
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Mr. Gabriel Essilfie, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, has acknowledged that there is inadequacy in the extension delivery sector of the Agriculture Ministry.
He has, therefore, given assurance that the issue would be raised on the floor of Parliament to elicit lasting workable policy to drive growth of agriculture and enhance the work associated with extension service delivery in the country.
He gave the assurance when representatives of SEND GHANA and Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) presented a proposal on how to improve extension-farmer ratio to the members of the committee.
In her opening remarks, Madam Clara Osei-Boateng, the Director of Policy Advocacy Programmes at SEND GHANA, said over the past years, one of the issues that had attracted attention was extension services.
Ghana’s agriculture sector has been underperforming over the years and a number of challenges account for this. They include climate change, access to credit and extension services among other things.
It is acknowledged that government has put in place a number of interventions in addressing some of these issues.
“We believe that we can tackle one problem at a time, so what has occupied us in the past years is extension service research and using the evidence gathered to engage with the people who make decisions and laws for us in this country so that we can make the best policies which will inure to that benefit to our farmers, especially smallholder farmers,” Madam Osei-Boateng said.
SEND GHANA and PFAG have conducted research on extension service and have put together a research document which essentially summarises the observation with regards to extension service provision in the country, and have also proposed specific recommendations for consideration.
Presenting highlights of the proposal, Mr Charles Nyaba, the Programme Officer PFAG, revealed that the document was informed by suggestions and interactions held with farmers across the country.
According to him, the situation whereby one Agric Extension Agent (AEA) is expected to serve One thousand five hundred farmers is worrying.
Mr Nyaba said while MoFA has an agricultural extension policy that promotes active participation of the private sector, NGOs and Faith-based organisations in extension service delivery, the absence of clear standards and guidelines on the policy made it difficult for the alignment and harmonisation of the activities of private extension service providers.
In order to drive growth of the sector and improve AEA-farmer ratio, it is recommended that extension services are treated as essential service/commodity to allow for recruitment of extension officers like health and education.
In the short term, there should be a push for NSS personnel from agriculture institutions to be posted and given specific training based on the needs of where they will be working
He said it was also important to review the disbursement guidelines to include agriculture to support extension service and clarity on Standards for Private Extension Service Delivery.
There is need for guidelines for extension delivery with code of ethics and standards and accreditation of extension providers and practitioners.
There is the need for strategic decision to develop and implement gender-sensitive recruitment policy to hire more women extension officers on the policy.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture should be given the mandate to ensure effective and efficient coordination of the RELC.
The decentralized system of extension services should be properly assessed to ensure recognition and support agricultural directorate at the district level.
At the end of the presentation, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana and SEND GHANA used the opportunity to appeal to Parliament to own and champion the Trust Africa funded campaign by calling for policy review in the above areas to ensure successful modernisation of agriculture.