Rice farmers at Fumbisi in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region are appealing to government to support them with combined harvesters to harvest their rice this year.

The rice harvest would begin in November and go on to January, depending on the variety of the crop and the availability of equipment.

Mr Richard Akuka, a rice farmer at Fumbisi, made the appeal on behalf of his colleagues in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the side-line of the inauguration of the Builsa South Commercial Farmers Association.

He said government through the Savannah Zone Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA),supported farmers in the area with seed and fertilizers, adding that the SAPIP initiative had boosted their production.

“Government has supported us with fertilizer and seed, we have worked well and are now appealing for help to able to harvest. We need combine harvesters. Even if it will be on credit bases, so that we pay back after sales or else if we get good yields and we are not able to harvest and it dries on the field, the buyers will not buy.”

Mr Akuka emphasized that “Our main challenge is the lack of combine harvesters, because if we are able to do all this work, and at the end we don’t harvest, it means our suffering will be in vain.”

Responding to the appeal by the farmers in a separate interview, Mr Wilson Doku, a Value Chain and Agribusiness Specialist working with the SAPIP, said “As part of the project objective, we are setting up mechanization service centres, right from land development to processing.”

He said the Centres would be driven by the private sector, “We will advertise it for the private sectors to apply. Even though it will be subsidized, we will give you a period of time to pay”, he told the farmers.

Mr Doku said procurement processes had begun, and contracts were awarded for work to start,  “We are very hopeful that Builsa South will be one of the Districts that will benefit, we only need a private sector person to lead that process”, he added.

He said his outfit would ensure that the private individual would be stationed in the District for farmers to benefit from the equipment, “Hopefully before the end of the year, all the implements will come in. Harvesting has been one of the biggest challenges.”