Celebrating farmers - PFAG, GhaFFaP make case for women smallholders - Agric Chamber calls for tech adoption

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
President Akufo-Addo together with Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (right), the Minister of Food and Agriculture, and Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye (2nd left), the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, presenting the overall National Best Farmer award to Mr Solomon Kojo Kusi
President Akufo-Addo together with Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (right), the Minister of Food and Agriculture, and Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye (2nd left), the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, presenting the overall National Best Farmer award to Mr Solomon Kojo Kusi

A total of 135 distinguished farmers were honoured on November 6, 2020, on the occasion of this year’s National Farmers Day held in Techiman, the Bono East Regional capital.

The celebration of this year’s Farmers Day was on the theme: “Agribusiness Development under COVID-19 – Opportunities and Challenges.”

Originally celebrated on every first Friday of the month of December, it is always brought forward to the first Friday of November in every election year.

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers (GhaFFaP) while congratulating the farmers, appealed for the criteria for awarding the overall national best farmer to be varied to favour smallholder farmers, and especially women.  

They argued that it was imperative to recognise that this stakeholder group continued to be the essential engine propelling the supply of raw materials for industry, while ensuring the availability of food commodities for the domestic and international markets.

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“Crucial to the growth and sustenance of the activities of smallholder farmers, we acknowledge and commend the government for its continuous implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme.”  

“It is our expectation that continuous collaboration and feedback provided by stakeholders on strategies for improving the programme to enhance its efficiency in the strategic positioning of the agriculture sector are accorded utmost attention”, the two groups said in a statement.

Deserving farmers

To the awards committee, PFAG said the process to identify deserving farmers could be improved to ensure that it reflected the current needs and challenges of the sector while serving its utmost purpose of creating opportunities for all actors including smallholder farmers, fisherfolks, the youth and women.

This will strengthen not only the raison d’etre of the awards but will also ensure it becomes an effective tool for driving national cohesion and inclusivity for the sector.

The two groups said there was the need to improve the process and use the same to drive inclusivity and create opportunities for marginalised groups in the sector.

They cited low productivity, post-harvest losses (PHL), processing and marketing as some cardinal issues still plaguing the sector.

Also, low levels of literacy associated with low technology adoption among smallholder farmers is a major concern which keeps the output gap of smallholder farmers at high levels.

“An award system that allows all categories of farmers to showcase their yields per acre, application of appropriate technology, value addition, adoption of agribusiness either in small, medium and large size, strategies to reduce PHL, environmental friendliness in farming and novelty is one that is in tune with time and will consolidate the credentials of not only the scheme, but the sector as a whole,” they stated.  

They added that the incentives to the overall winner should also be reviewed to focus on giving out agriculture-related machinery of interest to farmers that can be of use to other farmers in the community.

“Provision of warehouses, processing equipment and other related incentives will contribute to the development of both the farmer and the sector as a whole.”

“Building a house for a farmer in the urban area as part of the award system suggest resettling such farmers to those areas, which can be counter-intuitive to the rationale for the award scheme”, he said.

Agric Chamber

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Agribusiness, Ghana, has called for the adoption of technology and a robust data to help transform the country’s agriculture.

In an interview, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG), Mr Anthony Morrison, said “The chamber, while congratulating all farmers on this special day, wants to take the opportunity to appeal to farmers to take up the destiny of the industry into their hands and adopt newer technologies, use data to transform their lives and increase their economic and social security.”

He said this will go a long way to transform and improve lives of farmers.

He said the government must also at the same time introduce robust and sustainable youth intervention mechanism to mitigate the impending food security challenges of aging farmers.

Key note
-    This year’s national farmers day was the 36th edition and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually, with the physical durbar limited to a selected number of guests.
-    The Day was instituted in 1985 by the administration of President Jerry Rawlings and the Provisional National Defense Council in appreciation of the role farmers played in transforming the country’s food shortages situation after the devastation of the 1983 drought and famine.
-    Over the years, the celebration has grown tremendously and the prizes have improved magically from the era of Wellington boots, wheelbarrows, machetes and the like, to even tractors, cars and houses.

Make agribusiness attractive

Mr Morrison said there was the need to invest in skills, technology, agric machinery, irrigation and agric land banks.

“The land banks are important because a lot of investors have come and gone and this can be done by the government in partnership with the private sector. As we seek to increase productivity, we also need to look at how we can invest in high technology value addition that is sustainable and we should be able to export anything we add value to but not just adding,” he said.