Former President John Dramani Mahama has admonished the current government not to buy tractors for farmers in the country, saying that was a major mistake his administration made.
He explained that as part of efforts to boost agriculture, his administration bought tractors for farmers across the country but realized the equipment became dormant because the farmers couldn’t maintain them.
According to Mahama, most of the farmers that benefited from the tractors had no knowledge on how to keep the equipment running.
Speaking at the African Development Bank meeting in India, John Mahama said in order to correct such mistakes, his government instead created the Farmer Service Centres to provide tractor services to farmers.
“In the twilight of my administration in November 2016 I introduced the concept of Farmer Service Centres. And this was based on the experience I had that farmers do not need the tractors and the planters, what they need is the service of those equipment. In the past, what we’ve done thinking we were modernizing and mechanizing agriculture and I think that was a shot in the dark, it was a mistake and I hope the new government learns from our mistake.”
He said “we found out that the farmers could not maintain the tractors. They don’t have knowledge on how to keep those tractors running and so in two or three years, brand new tractors we provided were all broken down and standing on stones.”
Mr. Mahama explained that the Farmer Service Centres were equipped with mechanized farm equipment and a farmer in need of such service was only to register with the centre and make a request.
“We need to introduce specialization and that’s why we came up with the Farmer Service Centres where the agricultural equipment’ –the planters, ploughs, harrows among others were placed and all the farmer needs to do is register and get the service. And the business of maintaining the equipment is completely that of the farmer centre.”
Mr. Mahama further admonished the current government to make use of the centres in order not to repeat some of the mistakes his administration made.
“And so that was the experience we learnt which we had started to implement. I hope the new government will continue with that project so that farmers will receive service as and when they need it,” he added.
Planting for Food and jobs
John Mahama’s advice comes on the back of the launch of the Planting for Food and Job by President Akufo-Addo.
According to the government, the Planting for Food and Jobs which is being rolled out in all 216 districts across the country, involves the supply of farm resources such as high yielding and improved seedlings to participating farmers.
The New Patriotic Party government also claimed that the Planting for Food and Jobs programme could create over 750,000 jobs.