Reflections on farmers’ Day

Ghanaians from all walks of life are celebrating our farmers today. Over the years, our industrious farmers have not only relented in their efforts to feed the nation but have also contributed to national development and growth.

As a sign of appreciation, today has been dedicated to them.

Across the entire nation 24 farmers will be honoured in various categories at a ceremony in Ho in the Volta Region. Similar ceremonies will also be organised in the various regions and districts.

We at the Daily Graphic will like to join hands in saying a big ‘Ayekoo’ to our farmers.

We are equally delighted to note that since 1985, the nation has deemed it important to recognise their contribution to the economy.

It will be recalled that the day was instituted when in 1984, there was an impressive growth of 30 per cent in industry and production in the country.

The impressive improvement in industrial activity, following the years of 1982 and 1983, when the country suffered severe drought, made it imperative to celebrate their efforts.

The first Farmers Day was celebrated in Osino, in the Eastern Region, where the drought had been most severe in 1982 and 1993.

Since then, Farmers Day has been a feature of the Ghanaian calendar, with all farmers, the old, young, male and female, working hard to win the coveted title of the National Best Farmer and the prize that has come with it, which has appreciated now to a three-bedroom house.

We are so certain that the hard work that farmers put in to draw Ghana out of drought and hunger in the 1980s has not waned.

Ghanaians can testify to an all-year-round supply of our basic crops, grains, fish and meat.

With the introduction of the Planting for Food and Jobs, the country has also witnessed a push in agricultural activities.

In June/July this year, there were bountiful supplies of food crops such as plantain, yam and cassava.

 The bumper harvest has resulted in some savings on most domestic economies with less money for all the food needed in the home.

Over the years, the prizes for our farmers have also seen an improvement in value and worth. From Wellington boots as the prize for the best farmer, when the scheme began in the 1980’s, the National Best Farmer since 2002 has received a three-bedroom house.

Although Wellington boots are part of the prizes given to all farmers now, pickups, tractors, bicycles, power tillers and fishing nets have now also formed the complement of the prizes.

Scholarship schemes for farmers’ wards and international exposure on best farming practices have proved invaluable to our farmers.

Corporate Ghana has also been supportive in the celebration of our farmers.

The involvement of Corporate Ghana in the commemoration of the day shows how important it is to all and how interconnected we all are with the activities of farmers.

That notwithstanding, the celebration over the years has come with its fair share of challenges.

A case in point is the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, which has expressed concerns because promises made by the National Buffer Stock Company to lift glut of rice harvests in the northern parts of the country have not been fulfilled.

While most of our farmers still rely on rudimentary equipment, storage facilities and access roads to farm gates and even to the markets are lacking.

Fortunately, the Ministry of Agriculture is currently rolling out a number of interventions to support farming activities.

As we celebrate the farmers, it is time for all stakeholders  to reflect on functional steps that will go to support them to discharge their national service dutifully.

The Daily Graphic will also like to urge all stakeholders to keep faith with farmers and support them, not only during the day set aside to commemorate them, but even as they go through the back bending effort of farming.

Farmers Day has also now been decentralised, however, most farmers are not present at the district, regional and national commemorations.

Such events are normally patronised by public officials and their families from the ministries, departments and agencies, as well as municipal, metropolitan and district assemblies.

It is time to decentralise Farmers Day further to rural communities where farmers work. Perhaps, the celebration must be moved to communities where the best district, regionals and national farmers spend their days and nights in great labour for all of us.

That will serve as a worthy example for the youth living in those communities.