Advocacy action by members of the Ekumfi Srafa Pineapple Growers Association (ESPGA) in Ekumfi in the Central Region has improved their yields as a result of the increase in the number of agricultural extension officers to the district.
Members of the Ekumfi Srafa Pineapple Growers Association are happy with their recent financial status due to the high level of yields they have been recording from their farming activities by adhering to best agronomy practices.
According to Mr. Kweku Issah Sakyi, he recorded revenue of GHc3, 000 from his last sales of pineapples, which compares favourably with previous sales of less than GHc1, 000. He explained that previously yields from his farm were low as pest, rodents and diseases destroyed the pineapples on the farm.
Like many farmers, Mr. Sakyi has used part of the profit to renovate his house and pay his ward’s tuition fees at school. “I used part of the money I got from the pineapple sales to renovate my house and also paid my child’s school fees, something which had always been a burden,” he noted.
Another farmer, Ayuba Quansah, said he used the proceeds from his farm to finance his son’s tertiary education. “Last year my son could not go to school because I didn’t have the money but this year due to the impact of the advocacy action we embarked on, my son is in the university” he stated.
Members of the ESPGA attributed the positive results to the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund sponsored advocacy activities they embarked on which led to the increased number of agricultural extension officers allocated to the district from one to three. Periodically, additional officers are sent from the regional directorate to augment the work of the three permanent officers.
As part of the advocacy activities, the association engaged duty bearers including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in Accra, Central Regional Directorate of MOFA, Ekumfi District Directorate of MOFA and Members of Parliament from the area. They also engaged the media to give voice to their issues.
According to the Chairman of the association, Wofa Kwamina Kum, the association has gained immense recognition as a result of the advocacy actions. “Now ESPG is well known across the country” adding that “We receive calls regularly from all parts of the country, from pineapple growers who want to be part of the association”
“Before the advocacy action, our membership hovered around 350 but now we have over 500 members,” he hinted. Adding that “more members means more dues”. Currently members of the association pay GHc5 as monthly dues and all members are duly paying.
Madam Ewurasi Smith, a member of the association, stated that, the extension officers introduced her to best practices in agronomy. She learned to use the right quantity of fertilizers and insecticides to control pests on her farm. She added that pests such as centipedes and others attacked the pineapple suckers at different stages of growth, thereby affecting their optimum growth and yields. To control these pests, the farmers were introduced to Astrostar and K optism insecticides and this has significantly controlled the level of pest infestation on their farms.
“Previously, we farmed with the limited knowledge and we believe our efforts were below standard,” she noted.
“Sometimes when I have a challenge, I don’t wait for the extension officer to come around, I go to his office, previously I couldn’t do that,” Mr. Quansah also added.
Wofa Kum further hinted that, the test production of Eku juice from the Ekumfi Fruits and Juice factory under government's flagship project, One District One Factory, provided them with some relief with regard to marketing. “Access to market has been one of our headaches and with the coming in of the Juice factory our pineapples will not rot away,” he chipped.
The factory is said to be the biggest pineapple juice processing factory in West Africa. When fully operational in December 2019, it is expected to process about 300,000,000 packs of juice annually for the local and export markets. Expected revenue to be generated by the factory annually is pegged at GH¢530 million.
Before the advocacy action, the absence of agricultural extension officers resulted in low productivity and for several years, knowledge on new technologies in the production of pineapple had been unavailable to ESPG. These farmers were also not captured under the government policy of providing subsidised fertilisers to farmers. Thus, they did not receive any allocation of the said fertilisers and this resulted in poor varieties that earned low incomes making expansion of farms problematic and unattractive to the youth in the community.
Furthermore, post- harvest losses had become a major challenge as technologies they were applying to curb them were ineffective.
The association expressed gratitude to BUSAC Fund for the intervention and prayed that the Fund will support them in other areas of need.