About 91 hardworking farmers and fishers are being honoured today, Friday, December 7, 2018 for their immense contributions to the economic development of Ghana at this year’s National Farmers Day (NFD) celebration at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale.
This year’s celebration, which is the 34th since its inception in 1985, is on the theme: “Agriculture: Moving Ghana Beyond Aid”.
This celebration was preceded by a number of activities, including a week-long national agricultural fair and exhibition and regional-focus days which provided the platform for each region to showcase its culture and agricultural commodities.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is the special guest of honour, will present prizes to national and regional award winners at the grand durbar.
The farmer who will emerge the National Best Farmer for 2018 will receive $100,000 as his or her prize.
The ultimate prize for the National Best Farmer is sponsored by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to assist the fortunate winner to purchase agricultural equipment and tools.
The award categories at today’s durbar will include the National Best Farmer, First Runner-up, Second Runner-up, National Best Youth Farmer, National Best Female Farmer, National Best Physically Challenged Farmer, National Best Livestock Farmer, National Best Fisherman and National Best Inland Fisherman.
The rest are National Best Marine Fisherman, National Best Aquaculture Fisherman, National Best Cocoa Farmer, National Best Shea-nut Farmer, National Best Crop Farmer, National Best Agro Forestry Farmer, National Best Agricultural Extension Agent and National Best Fisheries Extension Farmer Worker.
The first five winners from each region will also be rewarded at the national level.
Those who will be honoured at the regional level are the Regional Best Farmer, First Runner-up, Second Runner-up, Regional Best Agricultural Extension Agent and Regional Best Fisheries Worker.
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The National Farmers Day was instituted by the government in 1985 in recognition of the vital role farmers and fishers play in the economy, especially the highly commendable output of farmers and fishermen in 1984 which resulted in about 30 per cent growth, after the bad agricultural years of 1982 and 1983.
The institutionalised Farmers Day awards, which are always on a chosen theme, also acknowledge the untiring efforts of farmers and fishers at feeding the country’s growing population, providing raw materials for industries and contributing substantially to foreign exchange earnings.
The prize for the first best farmer comprised two machetes, a pair of Wellington boots and a preset radio at a national durbar held at Osino in the Eastern Region in 1985.
Ever since, the value of the awards has improved from year to year, moving from bicycles to power tillers, tractors, pick-ups and presently a three-bedroom house for the ultimate winner since 2002.
We have, indeed, come far
The programme of activities usually planned for the celebrations includes a national farmers’ forum, at which the award winners interact with policy makers and experts on some technological advances in the agricultural sector and also make their views known.
Prizes are awarded to deserving farmers and fishers in order of best practices and outputs.
One notable feat chalked up by the awards is that over the years great interest has been shown by organisations and institutions which sponsor the event by offering various agricultural inputs, cash and other items that are presented to award winners.
Organisations in agriculture have also made available to farmers and fishers credit, inputs for production or processing of produce to reduce post-harvest losses.
At the 2017 edition, which was on the theme: “Farming for Food and Jobs”, Philip Kwaku Agyemang, a 50-year-old farmer from the Dormaa West District in the Brong Ahafo Region, was adjudged the National Best Farmer. He was presented with $100,000, instead of the three-bedroom house that had been presented by the Agricultural Development Bank for 15 years, in response to a request by the farmers.
Launching the 2018 event on August 3, the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, had said the introduction of a number of reforms, including the donation of $100,000 to the National Best Farmer last year and the start of an exhibition to showcase the country’s agricultural endowment and diversity, was part of reforms to improve on the awards.
Dr Bawumia said last year the agricultural sector accounted for 18.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and recorded an estimated growth of 8.4 per cent after a decade of erratic growth averaging less than four per cent.
“A diagnosis of the lower-than-expected performance of the sector over the years indicates that the agricultural sector is plagued with low productivity arising from low adoption of technology such as improved seeds and fertiliser, poor infrastructure, poor access to market, high post-harvest losses, as well as aged farmers,” he added.
He listed some interventions being rolled out by the government, such as the construction of 570 dams in the three regions of the north next year and the investment of close to $1 billion in road infrastructure this year under the Sinohydro intervention.
Planting for Food and Jobs
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, indicated that about half a million more beneficiaries of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme would be engaged this year.
He also announced the construction of over 50 warehouses under the Ghana National Buffer Stock Company to enhance the storage of agricultural produce.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Ms Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, also outlined a number of initiatives being undertaken by the fisheries sector, such as the construction of landing sites in Axim, Mumford, Teshie and Winneba, the intensification of patrols on the sea by the Navy,, among other interventions, and appealed to traditional rulers to assist the ministry to ensure that fishing laws were obeyed.