The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), has officially handed over the cheque to $100,000 to the 2017 national best farmer, Philip Kwaku Agyemang at an official ceremony to present the ultimate prize to the 2017 national best farmer.
Mr Agyeman who hails from the Brong Ahafo Region, was given the top prize for being named the nation’s best farmer in 2017 after 28 years of active farming.
51-year-old Philip Kweku Agyeman became the first to walk away with Ghc440,570.00, the cedi equivalent of $100,000 cash prize after the 2017 package was improved.
Mr. Agyeman from Dormaa West has farms that employ 205 workers, casual and permanent and has been farming for 28 years.
The colourful ceremony which was held at the e-conference room of the Ministry Of Food And Agriculture on Thursday saw the presentation done by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (ADB) who are the headline sponsors of the farmers’ day celebrations.
The presentation of the cash prize comes in the wake of several calls raised by previous winners who thought cash awards were better alternatives to the houses which were awarded winners.
Mr. Patrick Ankobiah, the Acting Chief Director of the ministry of Agriculture, who presented the cheque on behalf of Dr Afriyie Akoto, the substantive minister of Agric, said government was proud of farmers for their contribution to the well-being and sustenance of the Country.
“Through your efforts, food and revenue are increased and that makes Ghana what she is and thus the need to keep special covenant with the farmers by honouring them to demonstrate how much you are valued,” he said.
Managing Director of the Agricultural Development Bank, ADB, Dr John Kofi Mensah in recounting the history of the gesture by the bank in his speech said the gesture was instituted in 2001 as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility to the country.
Over the years, organizers of the Farmers’ Day seek to improve the celebration by making it dynamic as well as explore ways of making it better, citing that initially, winners were given Wellington boots, radio “akasanoma” and then a three-bedroom house.
He described Mr Agyemang’s achievement as a “feat that we are all supposed to be proud of because our farmers contribute to the well-being and sustenance of the people of this country”.
He said the nation appreciated the contribution of farmers, which explained the institution of the National Farmers Day to honour them.
“As a nation, we are keeping our special covenant with our farmers by demonstrating how much we appreciate their efforts,” Mr Ankobea said.
Dr John Kofi Mensah, indicated that since 2001, the bank had committed itself to building a fully furnished three-bedroom house at a place of choice of the national best farmer.
“Since then, we have committed the cedi equivalent of US$100,000 each year to that noble cause. We have since then built a total of 15 houses for award winners in various locations, including the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions, just to name a few,” he said.
However, beneficiaries expressed contrary views on the house and asked for its equivalent in funds to invest in their work by buying more agricultural inputs, employ more workers, among others, Dr Mensah noted.
He said as a listening bank, ADB in consultation with other stakeholders gave in to the concerns of the beneficiaries and moved from the traditional three-bedroom house to the cedi equivalent value of the $100,000.
On how Mr Agyemang plans to utilize the amount, Dr John Kofi Mensah explained that the best farmer had presented a proposal to this effect, including; the renovation of a 20-unit poultry structure, buying of over 30,000 growers and engaging more hands.
The GH¢440,570.00 has been transferred into the account of the award winner, the Managing Director revealed.
He said ADB was committed to ensuring that not only farmers benefitted from their work but the entire country and the bank would provide professional financial advice to farmers and implement strategies to de-risk agriculture and has created additional departments; agricultural value chain, Agricultural Finance Department Venture and Agricultural Desks in 36 out of the 78 banks to that effect.
President of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association of Ghana, NFFAWAG, Mr. Davies Narh Korboe who represented the award winners at the ceremony reiterated the need for the country to appreciate the agric sector if the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ mantra is to succeed.
“Ghana beyond aid, agriculture is the game changer and this will never be relevant if the government is not willing to help,” Mr. Korboe observed.
This cheque has been given to you to empower you and if possible add value to your produce, he told Mr. Agyemang.
While engaging the youth to embrace the values of agriculture, the 2009 national best farmer cited mechanised agriculture and bio-technology as the means to improving the fortunes in agriculture and urged the media to maximise their attention to agriculture.
The Chairman of the Award Winners’ Association called on government to explore ways of improving agriculture in the country.
Mr Agyemang, thanked government and ADB for supporting farmers and said the money would be used for its intended purpose to benefit especially the youth.
The move, he said would be a motivation to him and his colleagues and would attract new people into the sector.
He owns 280 acres of farmland which includes 120 acres of cocoa , more than three acres of fish pond, 95 acres of plantain, seven acres of cashew, five acres for orange farms, seven acres for coconut.
He also has 45,000 poultry and other livestock, a feat which earned him the award last year.