We salute all farmers and fishermen who won awards at the 32nd National Farmers Day awards held yesterday.
We especially doff our hats to Mr Robert Crentsil from the Ejumako-Enyan-Essiam District in the Central Region, who was crowned the 2016 National Best Farmer, and his two runners-up: Mr Ariku Martin Akurugu from the Upper East Region and Captain James Koranteng from Tarkwa-Nsuaem in the Western Region.
The Daily Graphic also commends the government for sustaining the day and awards since its institution in 1985 by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government and corporate Ghana, as well as individuals for their support with various items to award our deserving farmers and fishermen.
Despite the appreciable improvement in the awards to the farmers which have moved from just transistor radios, machetes and Wellington boots to tractors, pickup vehicles and now a house for the ultimate winner, there still remains a lot to be done to make agriculture attractive and enjoyable by, especially, the youth.
Of course, we cannot say that successive governments have neglected the agricultural sector, which is considered the backbone of the economy.
But while all these interventions, including various forms of subsidies to farmers, are laudable, the Daily Graphic urges that we modernise the country’s agriculture as a nation.
Most of the farms in the country are not only rain-fed or rain-dependent but also just for subsistence needs. We believe that it is time for us to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming and, indeed, plantation agriculture, so that we produce in abundance for local consumption and for export.
If that becomes our focus, we would employ more modern methods of farming other than employing those rudimentary implements such as hoes and machetes which we have known over the years.
We need to repair and restore all our irrigation dams and projects and also build more dams in the country’s farming areas.
We also need to put in place policies to encourage the financial sector to support agriculture to inspire and make it attractive not only to the youth, but also people with other professions to go into farming, fish and livestock rearing like in the days of the Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) programme.
The Daily Graphic also believes that the era of technology in which we find ourselves, is one sure bait to attract the technology-savvy youth into agriculture and agro-business.
For now, farming as it is done in Ghana, is so laborious and unattractive; but truth be told, if it is made less strenuous and frustrating with available credit at low interest rates, more tax exemptions on agriculture-related imports, good road infrastructure and ready markets, we would definitely give a lifeline to the aging sector.