Some rice farmers in Gbdembilisi in the Builsa South district of the Upper East Region have expressed fear of a low yield following the invasion of their farms by strange weeds, identified by agriculture officers as “wild rice”.
The infestation of the “wild rice”, according to the Builsa South district director of agriculture, Sylvan Dauda Danaa, has taken over 300 hectares of the 850 hectares rice fields in nine rice valleys.
Approximately 5.5 to 5.8 metric tons of rice is cultivated in the nine valleys by 894 rice farmers each year.
However, the “wild rice”, which has tillers resembling those of the rice and grow closely by the rice, may pose a challenge to the potential yields of the rice.
The major problem with the “wild rice” is that it grows besides the rice tiller taking more space and eventually infecting the rice tillers.
For now, farmers are using traditional methods to uproot the “wild rice” tillers which is time consuming. Others have abandoned their farmlands due to lack of money to pay for farm labourers.
Some of the affected farmers expressed their frustrations to 3news.com.
Agontu Moses who has 200 hectares of rice farm has been cultivating rice on these fields for close to five years.
“In fact, this wild rice is a problem to us because we spend a lot of money trying to manually remove them. We are hoping if the government can come with an input that can kill these weeds”, he said.
Emmanuel Afoko too has 250 hectares of rice fields and faces the same problem.
“We have a lot of challenges here in the valleys but the “wild rice” infestations is our major problem and needs to be addressed else production for this year will be low”, he lamented.
Mr. Danaa called on government and researchers to intervene with a lasting antidote to the “wild rice” infestation in order to help rice farmers grow more.
He indicated that though the farmers are experiencing little rain, most of the rice fields are doing well due to the good farming practices the farmers have adopted through the training his outfit has given them.
The Upper East regional director of agriculture, Francis Ennor, said the “wild rice” infestation is causing a lot of anxiety among rice farmers.
He assured farmers of better agricultural innovations which will increase crop and animal production in the region.
Last year, there was huge rice gluts at the rice valleys due to lack of ready market.
Other challenges confronting rice farmers at the valleys are lack of roads to fields, inadequate inputs, fertilizers and seeds.
By Rabiu Mohammed Tanko|3news.com|Ghana