All roads lead to Sogakope in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region today as the nation sets to honour its gallant farmers and fisher folks for the critical role they play in feeding the nation.
The National Farmers Day celebration instituted in 1985 is aimed at recognising and rewarding hardworking farmers for their contribution to national development.
To acknowledge this important role of farmers who ensure that there is food on our tables every day, the government has since 1988, set aside every first Friday in December as a national holiday to honour our farmers.
In all, 70 farmers selected throughout the country will be honoured at the national durbar. The overall winner will take home a fully furnished three-bedroom house to be built by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), and sited at the winner’s choice of location while the first-runner up takes home a tractor and its accessories sponsored by the EDIF. The second runner-up receives a double cabin Pickup donated by Stanbic Bank.
Aside the national event at Sogakope, it is anticipated that the day will be observed throughout the remaining nine regional capitals, as well as metropolitan, municipal and district capitals.
At all these celebrations, deserving farmers will be awarded various prizes and certificates as a way of saying thank you and to boost their morale to continue to serve the nation.
Theme and significance
This year’s celebration is on the theme: “Reducing Post-harvest losses for sustainable food security and nutrition”.
The theme is timely as farmers, especially those producing the staple foods such as maize, yam, rice, groundnuts sorghum among others look on helplessly as their toil waste away on a yearly basis, thus, threatening food security in the country.
It is important that as government works towards reducing post-harvest losses, it addresses the problem holistically and go beyond improving the on-farm productivity to addressing other complimentary areas such as good road network to farmlands, ensuring fair prizes of farm products, and affordability of agro-products such as insecticides, pesticides, among others in the agribusiness.
It is estimated that Ghana experiences annual post-harvest losses between 25 and 30 per cent of total agricultural produce for all staple food crops.
So, by addressing a reduction in post-harvest losses, Ghana will be matching towards increased food availability for consumption and excess to sell.
The selection of Commodore Steve Obimpeh (rtd) as the Chairman of the planning committee of this year’s celebration could be described as “all hands on desk”. Indeed, it is gratifying to note that Commodore Obimpeh was once the Minister of Food and Agriculture and he being the Chairman of the committee, he might have brought lots of experience to bear on the various decisions taken to make the celebration a memorable one.
Who wins the ultimate?
As we anxiously wait for events to unfold, all eyes will be on which of the selected farmers penciled to pick awards will take home the ultimate prize of a fully furnished three-bedroom house in addition to other mouth-watering prizes.
Role of corporate bodies
It is worthwhile to note with satisfaction the contribution of corporate bodies over the years towards the successful celebration of the day. There is a long list of sponsoring companies and institutions towards the celebration of the day, however, the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) can be singled out for mentioning for its consistent support of the celebration with substantial contributions including the hosting of the cocktail reception in honour of the farmers, the farmers forum in its fourth year this year and also a two-bedroom house for the winner since 2001.
At this year’s cocktail, the Managing Director of ADB, Mr Stephen Kpordzi, reaffirmed the commitment of ADB to continue to support the day.
Hope for the future
There is hope for agriculture in the future and it is reassuring to see the President of Ghana, Mr John Dramani Mahama, assuring the farmers of far-reaching programmes the government is putting in place to ensure sustainable agricultural development in the country. At the cocktail, the President addressed the concerns of practically all the sectors of agriculture; the provision of improved seeds, subsidised fertiliser, subsidised tractors, expanded irrigation programme, reduction of poultry imports, support for aqua-culture among others.
One good reason why we should all celebrate this day is the fact that more and more youth are venturing into the agricultural sector unlike the previous years when farming was seen as a preserve for illiterates and the poor. This, President Mahama acknowledged, when he said, “I am encouraged by the growing youthful age of the persons who are coming to receive farmers awards in recent years. It shows a generation change that agriculture is no longer a profession meant for our grandfathers and mothers.”
As we celebrate the 29th edition of the National Farmers Day, all Ghanaians with one voice should congratulate our worthy farmers on holding firm the food basket to ensure that it does not fall to the ground.
Source : Daily Graphic