Smallholder farmers drawn from Central and Western regions and other parts of the country have taken part in a short training course in tractor operation, maintenance, and management.
Organised under the auspices of the School of Agriculture, the training workshop forms part of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences' extension activities to communities around the University and beyond.
A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Dr. Robert Sarpong Amoah, who took participants through farm implements with special focus on Agricultural tractor, said the Department was determined to modernise agriculture by training farmers to go into commercial farming to increase food production. He noted that the tractor was a self-propelled machine used extensively in mechanised agriculture.
The tractor, Dr. Amoah indicated, was "specifically designed to deliver mechanical energy at a high effort at low speed for the purpose of hauling other implements to perform specific activities on the farm". He pointed out that the tractor could be used to perform functions such as ploughing, harrowing, routine lawn care, landscaping, distribution of fertilizer and, tilling and planting of seeds on the farm. The Senior Lecturer also took participants through the main components of the tractor, as well as the kinds of tractors.
Speaking on the topic:" Selection and Costing of Farm implement, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Agriculture Engineering, Dr. Francis Kumi, noted that machinery and equipment were the major cost items in the farm business. "Farm Machinery costs can be divided into two categories: annual Ownership costs, which occur regardless of machine use, and Operating costs, which vary directly with the amount of machine use, “he added. He noted that larger machines, new technology, high prices for parts and new machinery, and high energy prices have caused machinery and power costs to rise in recent times".
However, he was quick to add that good managers could control machinery and power cost per hectare by making smart decisions about how to acquire machinery and when to trade them off. All these decisions, he pointed out, required accurate estimates of the costs of owning and operating farm machinery. The Head of the Department of Agriculture Engineering, Prof. Ernest Ekow Abano, in his welcome address, advised the farmers to take the training seriously to enable them to acquire the requisite skills and technical knowledge on how to operate tractors on the farm. He expressed the hope that the training would equip participants with the requisite knowledge and skills to build their capacity and improve food production.
Prof. Abano added that the workshop would be organised every two months and encouraged beneficiaries to share the success story with other farmers so as to enable them to take advantage of the next training workshop.
The Dean of the School of Agric, Prof. Elvis Asare Bediako, who chaired the workshop, admonished participants to bear in mind that tractors could be very dangerous if not carefully managed. He, therefore, asked them to pay rapt attention to the training sessions and apply the skills and knowledge gained in their various operations. He underscored the importance of farm machinery management in the holistic progress of agriculture.
As part of the workshop, participants were taken through practical sessions on how to drive both two-and four-wheel tractors as well as using them for farming operations.