BY ROSEMOND BOATENG ADDAI
SOME FARMERS have predicted that there would soon be dire shortage of maize in Ghana due to devastating worm infestation and rodent activities as well as consistent heavy rains in the three northern regions and irregular rainfall in the southern sector.
According to the distressed farmers in the northern regions, they are unable to predict the number of times the rains would fall between June and July to strategise and are also uncertain if their farms would survive two days of torrential rains while in the southern parts of the country farmers are worried about irregular rainfall.
Some of the farmers who spoke to the DAILY HERITAGE yesterday said currently a bag of maize cost GH¢ 150.00 unlike the old prices between GH¢ 90.00 and GH¢ 100.00 because maize is scarce.
Mr Mohamed Adam, a farmer at Vinti in the Northern Region, explained that commercial farmers are now getting ready to farm since it is their season.
But, he said the farmers would have to plant the maize on rocky lands to prevent the heavy rains up north from washing away the seedlings.
According to him, due to heavy rains in April and May, most of the farmers could not plough their land.
“We are now planting our crops on the rocky lands so that even if it rains heavily between June and July we will be able to harvest something, maybe in September,” he explained.
Mr Adam added that they are now planting the ‘three-month variety’ maize, popularly known as ‘Obaatanpa’ because when they plant the ‘long variety’ it would not mature even after five months.
In the Western Region, some of the farmers told the DAILY HERITAGE that army worms had infested the little maize they were able to harvest.
“We are so much devastated because there is nothing we can do. The worms are now used to the chemical we use in spraying them so when we spray they do not die,” Mr Inusah Nartey stated.
The farmers added that they were not sure if they could harvest more of the maize this year because the situation had rendered most of them jobless.
At Kasoa and Nyanyano in the Central Region, the farmers said last year by this time they had started harvesting some fresh maize, but this year their seedlings could not grow because army worms destroyed them before they could shoot up.
Mr Kweku Tawiah, a farmer at Enyan Denkyira, in the Central Region, told the DAILY HERITAGE that from the look of things shortage of maize next year would be worse than this year.
According to him, planting of maize on dry lands usually starts in March, when the rainy season starts, “but the rains did not come at the right time and those who attempted planting had most of the seedlings removed and eaten by rodents, with the few that germinated suffering stunted growth.”
He said failure to start planting the maize in March due to shortage of rains that enables the maize to grow well could result in poor harvest and subsequently shortage of maize.
“By this time the maize should have grown well within two months but I could plant mine in my second attempt about a month ago and the height of the plants is at an average person’s knee level,” he noted.
Agric Ministry’s reaction
When contacted, the Agric Ministry explained to the DAILY HERITAGE that there was no shortage of maize and that middlemen were to blame because they were hording the maize.
He explained that though there were challenges farmers were facing on their farms, the sector is working very hard to bring things under control.
Mr Dagbara Tanko, Public Relations Officer of the Agricultural Ministry, said the ministry had done some works in all the 10 regions in the last two months, which indicated that the country would not witness any shortage of maize.
According to him, the middlemen store the maize in fear of shortage and then take advantage of the situation to increase the price.