On Agriculture, Hon. Mahama gave strong indication of the desire of his administration to make maximum use of the Bontanga and the Golunga irrigation dams by encouraging farmers in the District to cultivate twice a year. To further boost Agriculture in the District, the DCE disclosed that, plans are far advanced for the purchase of Ten (10) water pumping machines to engage the teeming unemployed youth in Agriculture.
“We will also ensure that all Health facilities in the District are truly functional in the real sense of the word”, the DCE said of his vision for the Health sector. He added that accommodation for Nurses which is in short supply will be addressed with the seriousness that it deserves. According to him most physical structures at some of the District’s Health Centers are not in the best of shapes and as such the Assembly will do all it can to ensure their rehabilitation for effective and efficient Health service delivery.
It is widely believed that, the idle mind and hand is more likely to engage in distasteful acts or conducts which society may frown upon, Hon. Mahama observed. He said this is a belief that he very much agrees with. My vision in this regard therefore is to work to reduce the number of idle hands and minds in the District. This assembly has been able to do with the creation of close to 700 additional employment opportunities under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) for the youth in the District thanks to the support of the two Members of Parliament (PMs) for Tolon and Kumbungu and Hon. Lawyer Mumuni, Minister for Foreign Affairs who is also a former Member of Parliament for Kumbungu whose complimentary efforts helped secure this important achievement. The initial quota for the District was eighty (80) vacancies -45 for the teachingmodule and 35 for Nursing.
He said the NRGP would help improve linkages between the domestic and export markets for agricultural production in the north and this could help address poverty in the region. Mr. Mohammed Manssouri, IFAD Ghana Country Programme Manager, said the Fund had financed 15 projects at the cost of 184 million dollars, aimed at reducing rural poverty in the three northern regions. He said the current IFAD portfolio stood at about 80 million dollars and that co-financing and government contribution was about 250 million dollars. Mr. Manssouri expressed the hope that with support from ADB, the NRGP, poverty would be reduced in the north.
Farmers urged to Produce what the Market Wants
Mr. Roy Ayariga, a seasoned Agriculturalist and Co-coordinator for the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP) has advised farmers in the Tolon District and the three northern regions in general to Endeavour to produce what the market wants and not necessarily what they want. He noted that in situations where farmers are unable to find ready market for their produce, most tended to ignore the fact that they did not produce what the market actually wanted saying there was therefore the need for every farmer who has the intention to market his or her produce after harvesting to take connivance of the dictates of the prevailing market.
Mr. Ayariga was addressing farmers and other stakeholders at a Farmer’s Field Day celebration at Nyankpala-Kpachi, a farming community in the District. Hon. Iddi Manzah Mahama, District Chief Executive was in attendance. The NRGP is a government of Ghana, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the International Fund for agricultural Development (IFAD) financed programme with a goal to achieve sustainable rural livelihoods and food security for poor rural people in northern Ghana. Its specific objective is to develop remunerative commodities and food chains to generate incomes and agricultural surplus production, which can then be directed towards markets in southern Ghana and abroad. Commodities potentially include industrial crops such as sorghum and oilseed, sheanuts, fruits, vegetables and animal products. The programme focuses particularly on rural women and vulnerable groups.
According to Mr. Ayariga, most farmers do not produce what the market wants and therefore there was the urgent need for change adding that the NRGP will among others help address those challenges associated with the marketing of farm produce.
Mr. Ayariga said the NRGP believes in working in partnership with other stakeholders like farmers and other researchers in farming and noted that access to credit was one of the major obstacles faced by most farmers in the District and urged the Tolon district Assembly to spearhead the establishment of a Rural Bank in the District to make it possible for farmers to access loans to be able to increase their yields.
According to him the absence of rural Banks in a particular area will make it difficult if not impossible for farmers in that area to access credits and other loans saying he was particularly instrumental in the establishment of a rural Bank in Zebilla, capital of Bawku West District. He said almost every District in the Upper East Region has a rural Bank a situation he said is improving the lot of farmers there because the existence of the banks makes it a lot easier for most of them to have access to credit.
Hon. Iddi Manzah Maham, DCE acknowledged the contributions of the ADB, IFAD and all the other stakeholders in the Agricultural sector and called for a more sustained effort to ensure increased food production in the district and in the country at large . silver platter but by dint of hard work, dedication and commitment to duty by members of the District Security Committee (DISEC) because they appreciate and recognize the fact that, peace and sedurity are very critical ingredients for any meaningful development to happened. Without mincing words, Hon. Mahama said the district Security committee (DISEC) of which he’s the chairman is and will always continue to be up to the task to ensure that the people in the District are at peace with themselves and with their neighbors at all times.
SAVANNA AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) is one of the fourteen (14) institutes of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSRI) located in Nyankpala in the Tolon district. Current Director of the Institute is Dr. S.K. Nutsugah.
The mandate of the savanna agricultural Research Institute is to conduct agricultural research, particularly as it relates to food and fiber crop farming, in northern Ghana for the purpose of introducing improved technologies to enhance agricultural productivity.
1. Develop in close collaboration with typical farm households in the various agro-ecological zones, options of production techniques which are compatible with farm households and which enhance the capacity of arm families to increase crop production per unit area without injury to the environment.
2. Introduce improved varieties of crops which address the production problems of the Ghana school Feeding Programme is an Initiative of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural development of the Millemum Development Goals (MDGs) on hunger, poverty and Malnutrition. The basic concept of the programme is to provide Children in public parimary schools and kindergartens with one hot, nutritious meal prepared from locally grown food stuffs every school going day with the ultimate objective of contributing to the reduction of short-term hunger and malnutrition, improving enrolment, attendance, performance and retention in schools among others.
In the long term, the GSFP seeks to contribute to poverty reduction and food security in Ghana. The programme is being implemented by the Ghana School Feeding Programme Secretariat with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development exerting oversight responsibility. The first phase of the GSFP is to operate for a four-year period from 2007 to 2010 by which time over a million pupils would have benefited from the programme nationwide.
The Tolon district directorate of Agriculture has offices located within a walking distance from the District Administration block. The Directorate has a staff strength of forty-one (41) of which six are professionals, three sub professionals, nineteen technical staff and a supporting staff of thirteen. The vision of the Directorate is a District where there are improved soicio-ecnonomic conditions through quality Education, Healthy lifestyles, food security and incomes on a sustainable basis. Like all other Directorates, the Tolon/Kumbungu District Directorate of Agriculture also exist to promote sustainable Agricultural growth and development through the provision of efficient technical and extension services to farmers, fishermen and other Agricultural related businesses. The Directorate also promotes stakeholder participation, gender mainstreaming, collaboration and teamwork.
The Directorate has developed key objectives in line with its mission. These include promoting the adoption of improved method of production facilitating farmer’s access to improved methods of post-harvest management and processing, ensuring the availability of timely reliable and relevant data on agriculture and to enhance the capacity for quality extension service delivery. The other objectives being pursued by the Directorate include to facilitate farmer’s access to credit, inputs, markets and other services, to establish and sustain collaboration and teamwork/consultation with the University of Development Studies (UDS), Animal Research Institute (ARI), the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), relevant NGOs and development partners operating in the Tolon District and last but not the least facilitate the production of raw materials for local industries and commodities for export. The land area of the District is 2,400km2 of which 70% is arable and therefore has potential for Agricultural purposes. More than 70% of the population of the District is engaged in one form of Agricultural activity or the other.
Learning in schools especially at the basic level in the country. In a related development, Government has also Made good its promise to provide free school uniforms to pupils in the country with the Northern region launch taking place in Nyankpala in the Tolon/Kumbungu District. Speaking at the launch, Hon. Iddi Manzah Mahama, District Chief Executive expressed the hope that parents and guardians will seize the opportunity by Government to send a11 their children of school going age to school since the burden of caring for their children has now been lessened. The ceremony which was performed by the Hon. Northern Regional Minister, Moses Bukari Magbenga was also witnessed by a large number of school children, Teachers, Parents and people from all walks of life.