Award winners for the 2015 National Farmers Awards have put climate change, electricity tariffs , poor premix fuel distribution on top of the list of challenges hampering their production in 2015.
Top on the list was also inadequate systems of indemnity from farm disasters. The farmers cited situations especially in the Upper East and Upper West region where floods have destroyed farms in the course of the year.
The farmers made this known at the 6th National Farmers' Forum organized by the Agriculture Development Bank for this year's Farmers Award Winners, held at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
They wanted to know, what systems government can put in place akin to the National Disaster Management Organisation to indemnify farmers in times of farm disasters.
In response, Agriculture Minister, Fifi Kwetey said discussions are in place to find a solution to the problem.
" We will encourage farmers to go for agriculture insurance to protect them from such unplanned losses. Even though government is putting together a package for such instances, I think the best way is for farmers to go for insurance services."
On Climate Change, some farmers in the Upper East Region said ground nut production in the Upper East region has declined, and the explanation being given by Agriculture Extension Officers, according to the farmers, is climate change.
Head of agricultural research institute, Miller Institute and a member of the National Development Commission, Prof. Kwasi Miller said further research must be conducted to ascertain the fact, but there is some evidence of a change in weather patterns.
" It is a fact that groundnut production from the region has reduced, but is it due to climate change? We are not 100 percent yet."
"Another thing is clear that this year, according to the National Meteorological Service 2015 has been the country's hottest ever" he added.
Fishermen from the the Volta and Western region lamented about inadequate supply of premix fuel to power their out board mottors. They put the challenge down to smuggling and poor distribution channels that ensure that they are exploited by government suppliers.
Housing and the proliferation of real estate companies who are competing with farmers for land was also given prominent mention. The farmers suggested that government designates lands specifically for farming.
The protracted energy crisis was not left out of the key challenges of the farmers in 2015. According to them, some farmers from the Ketu South district engaged in mechanized farming are finding it difficult to finance cost of production given the high costs of tarriffs. They also cited the challenges as a main factor discouraging the youth from the agricultural sector.
In his response to this concern, the agric minister, Hon. Fifii Kwetey admitted to the challenge saying that his ministry was currently in a discussion with the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission on how best to differentiate within the prices.
" We are currently in talks with the PURC to see how best we can get lower tariffs for farmers and entities in Agrioprocessing. The challenge we have realised however, is the inability to demarcate and differentiate between homes and farms, since most people in Ketu South and Keta are involved in backyard farming."
" But I concede that we need to charge industry much less than domestic customers. That's what's done in most serious developed coutries. Citizens must understand that and agree with government on this." The minister said.