To support local farmers to encourage them to take part in cash cropping, extension services in agriculture into rural areas must take place.
This was according to the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) Minister John Simon who said that the country needs 400 agriculture extension officers.
“Many farmers are trying their best to sustain their farms and to keep them going but they are faced with mounting challenges from pests to field management, harvesting and treatment,” he said. “When these farmers struggle alone without expert advice, they will give up and move on to something else. This affects production that we have over the years with cocoa and coffee as well as others.”
Simon said that this was part of boosting the economy. He added that he had already encouraged Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) and Cocoa Board to invest more in extension service work.
“Go out to farmers in the rural areas and establish why they have abandoned coffee and cocoa plantations so that you can see the real problems and solve them,” Simon said, saying that the Board needs to be more effective.“Get more extension officers out to districts and local level government areas where the farmers are and help them so that more is produced to supply the markets overseas.”
Simon said that in the last two decades, work for the extension officers gradually diminished.