The Eastern Regional Director of Agriculture in charge of Projects, Mr Geoffrey Kwaku Honu, has asked farmers to conduct soil testing before applying fertiliser on their farms. He said the call had become imperative because testing the soil would enable farmers to know the soil types for which particular crops in order to reduce the large quantities of fertilisers the government imports annually at huge cost to the nation.
Mr Honu made the call at a workshop on soil testing and application of soil amendments advisory services for farmers in the Birim Central Municipality and the Asene-Manso-Akroso District both in Akyem Asuboa South near Oda last Tuesday.
Forty-eight farmers, belonging to a group called Nyame Tease Maize Growers Association and six agricultural extension officers, attended the workshop.
Mr Honu recently returned from a training programme in India on the topic, “Feed the People”.
The programme looked at the US Government’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative and the Indian government’s National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management and Farmers Welfare programme.
The programme in India was attended by 21 executives drawn from five African and two Asian countries, including Ghana.
Every executive at the programme was assigned to come out with an important activity to be executed within six months after the training programme. In Mr Honu’s case, he selected Asuboa for his project.
In the Asuboa project, soil samples were taken from six different spots on a one acre (0.4 hectare) land and mixed thoroughly to obtain a homogenous soil from which a sample was sent to the Soil Research Institute in Kumasi for testing.
Analytical data from the soil samples indicated that the organic carbon and nitrogen contents, among others, were low in the soil, therefore the soil on the plot of land ought to be amended with poultry manure.
The one acre field was divided into three equal plots and given to Nyame Tease Maize Growers Association for farming. The first group used NPK and Urea while the second used soil amendment (poultry manure) with the third using neither organic nor inorganic fertiliser.
Following the planting of a maize variety called “abontem” for 10 weeks, the soil amendment plot had the highest yield with the NPK/Urea and the no fertiliser application types placing second and third, respectively.
Mr Honu, therefore, advised farmers to use poultry manure on their farms not only to reduce cost but to also ensure the maximum yield from their farms.
He announced that the government would in August this year provide every office of agriculture with a vehicle and motorbikes to improve operations of their staff.
He commended the government for taking measures to boost food production in the country.
Construction of silos
The District Agricultural Officer for Asene-Manso-Akroso, Mr Prosper Klu, expressed his satisfaction with the farm demonstration, saying it had been successful right from the beginning because the farmers showed great interest in it.
He said the demonstration would help the farmers to boost production and consequently maximise profit from their produce.
The leader of the Nyame Tease Maize Growers Association, Mrs Comfort Anim, appealed for silos in order to store maize produced in the area.
He further urged the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to ensure that machetes given to outstanding farmers on National Farmer’s Day were of good quality.