Lack of farm machinery; female farmers in UW/R call for inclusion of tractor services in PFJ policy

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Female farmers in the Upper West region has appealed to the government to introduce or include subsidized tractor services in the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy. They have also urged other stakeholders in agriculture to help make available farming equipment especially tractors, at the beginning of the season to enhance their productivity.

The northern part of Ghana experiences only one rainy season which usually starts around April and ends around September. It is during this time most people who are interested in farming take to the fields. It is however unfortunate that the season has become difficult to predict in recent times.

The short duration coupled with limited farm implements for farm preparation and harvesting of produce continues to pose a challenge to most farmers in the north of Ghana especially women. Due to this, farmers in this part of the country move in urgent haste to grab the few tractors available to plough their farmlands when the rains begin to fall.

This sudden rush for tractors gives priority to men, who are “traditionally” regarded as heads of the family and should be served first. This unfortunate decision by the few tractor operators usually leave women disadvantaged. These societal arrangements which prioritize men in the owning of productive resources therefore leaves little for the women farmers as preference is given to men when it comes to farm services.

According to Jahara Osman, a farmer, getting tractor to plough her farm is usually a cumbersome process. This, she said, normally discourages women to even venture into farming. She disclosed that she has to rely on the male farmers to facilitate tractor services for her to plough her nine acres farm.

The female farmer further indicated that, they harvest and thrash soyabeans manually due to lack of shellers/thrashers. Madam Jahara opined that they could do more if they were having easy access to farm machinery like their male counterparts.

In similar vein, Khadija Seidu described the difficulty in getting tractor to plough her land in time as the biggest challenge hindering her progress in farming. She added that “even when you need labour to weed, sow or harvest manually, they will tell you, they are working on their individual farms”.

For Leberta Razak, her productivity as a farmer is challenged as a result of lack of early tractor services and farm inputs. She mentioned that, the delays in getting tractor services, improved seeds and fertilizers hamper her agricultural activities.

On her part, Hajia Hamida Iddris, who owns a tractor and a sheller in Konyokuon, said the machines are wortfully inadequate to serve the farmers in the community. She noted that, as a woman farmer, she has successfully encouraged a lot of women to cultivate interest and embrace farming, which they did. She however bemoaned the inadequacy of farming implements to ease the stress of the farm work, which thereby impedes their progress.