Michael Eshun, the Chief Executive Officer of ScanFarms Ghana, a maize production company, has suggested the adoption of hybrid seeds to help maximize the productivity of farmers in the country.
Mr Eshun says planting hybrid yellow maize seeds, for instance, can increase yield by 50 to 70 percent over local seeds.
“Maize yields in Ghana average approximately 1.5 metric tons per hectare. But with improved seeds, fertilizer, mechanization and irrigation, yields can go as high as 5 to 7 metric tons.”
Under traditional production methods and rain-fed conditions, yields are well below their attainable levels.
To bridge the increasing gap between domestic supply and demand for maize, ScanFarms Ghana has entered into a commercial farming venture.
The cultivation of a 600-hectare hybrid yellow maize farm should bring relief to poultry farmers.
Mr Eshun says the adaptation of hybrid seeds will help farmers to harvest more on the same land.
“With the newly improved yellow maize seed we planted on our farm last year, we were able to harvest about 60,000 bags on a 600-hectare plantation. This was an increase of 60 percent over the previous years when we were using the local seeds.”
Mr Eshun hinted that the decision by ScanFarms to leave biofuel production and enter into maize farming was to bring relief to poultry farmers because there is deficit supply of yellow maize in the country.
Maize farmer and tractor operator at ScanFarms Gyamfua Veronica advised the youth and women to turn to agriculture for sustained livelihoods because the venture is lucrative when done properly.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture estimates the annual domestic deficit of maize to be
between 84,000 and 145,000 metric tons over the last four years.
This represents a shortfall in domestic production of between 9 and 15 percent of total human consumption within the period.
Maize consumption is projected to grow at 2.6 percent annually.
Maize represents the second largest commodity crop in the Ghana after cocoa.
It is the largest staple crop in the country and contributes significantly to consumer diet. It is the number one crop in terms of area cultivation, accounting for 50-60 percent of total cereal production.
ScanFarms Ghana has targeted to harvest over 60,000 bags of yellow maize this season to reduce the consumption deficit and help reduce import of yellow maize for poultry farming.
By Ibrahim Abubakar|TV3|Kumasi, A/R|Ghana