The Regional Agriculture Engineer in Volta Region, Mr. Sylvester Owusu, handed over the portable rice harvesters to selected female farmers in the region to reduce the labor intensity of rice farming through the use of modern tailor-made tools.
“Farmers are always complaining about labor and they have limited tools. Undeveloped fields cannot take combine harvesters and so small motorization would be useful,” he said.
Two hundred and fifty female rice growers from top producing areas were given free portable rice harvesters. They were among 450 rice farmers from 15 farmer-based organizations (FBO) selected from six growing districts in the region.
The Government’s Modernising Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) program with support from the Canadian Government, acquired some 1,000 units of the handheld harvesters, 82 of which were handed over to the FBOs in the region.
The machines are maneuverable, user-friendly, designed to enable harvesting in fields not engineered, and also have accessories for reconfiguration into grass-weeding tools.
Mr. Owusu said the region remained the leading producer of rice by volume, thanks to Government’s interventions, adding that the Ministry, as part of its Special Rice Initiative, was focusing on the provision of farming machinery, farmland development, and access to quality processing equipment.
He said most subsistence rice farming relied on sickles and other traditional tools while labour remained unreliable and that the equipment, under the watch of the district agriculture offices, would help increase productivity and minimize post-harvest losses.
Mrs. Sandra Ofori, Hohoe Municipal Director of Agriculture, said the portable harvesters would take care of about 50 to 70 percent of rice farm labor.
“Even young women can handle it,” she said, adding that the Municipal Office would continue to offer the needed skill enhancement for growers.”
She expressed the hope that other plans and interventions by the Ministry would be realized soon.
The Director said the right farming tools and interventions would encourage more young men and women into agriculture.
The 15 FBOs were selected from the Ketu North, Ho Municipal, South Tongu, Afadzato South, Ho West, and the Hohoe Districts and Municipalities, with a combined total of about 1,000 acres under cultivation.
Richard Mawutor, a beneficiary rice farmer, said the portable harvester, aside from helping harvest more crops, would help ease dependence on weed killers and appealed to stakeholders to help engineer farms for proper mechanization and expansion.
The MAG program seeks to help realize a more modern, equitable, and sustainable agricultural sector, contributing toward food security through the increased adoption of relevant technologies in production.
The program is also towards encouraging private sector investment in the agro sector and boosting the participation of women.