Today marks Farmers Day, a day set aside to celebrate and recognise farmers for the immense contribution they make in feeding the citizenry and providing raw materials for food-based industries of the country.
The day was instituted in 1985 as the nation’s way of appreciating farmers and fishers for their vital role in ensuring food sufficiency after a severe and prolonged drought in 1982-1983 that resulted in scarcity of food with the country surviving on the benevolence of others to feed its citizens. Perhaps apart from cannibalism, Ghanaians ate anything they could lay their hands on in those days. The situation became worse with the deportation in 1983 of over one million Ghanaians from Nigeria.
Since then, the Farmers Day has been celebrated usually on the first Friday of December every year.
The importance of agriculture to the development of every country cannot be overemphasised. Agriculture is the backbone of every economy. Among many others, it provides food for the population and raw materials for industry. Arguably, it is the largest possible avenue for employment for the majority of the people. It is that area of the economy that can never over-employ, especially in this day of mass unemployment that experts say is a threat to national security and a recipe for disaster.
Therefore, the idea of dedicating a day to celebrate farmers and fishers, and for that matter agriculture, is even more relevant today than the time the day was instituted over 30 years ago.
But a cursory look and appreciation of the day suggests that apart from the relative handful of farmers who are nominated for awards, a big chunk of them do not have affinity for the day. Rather it is the civil servants and other workers who enjoy the holiday with parties and get-togethers while the poor farmer goes to till the land.
Maybe it is about time we took a second look at the holiday and reviewed it in order to put farmers and fishers at the centre of activities for them to own the day to have a real feel of the holiday that has been instituted in their honour. For instance, can there be a day when all farmers and fishers would be registered so that on such an occasion they receive a mini-bag of rice, a tin of sugar, a tin of Milo or any cocoa product and a few canned fish?
The country should look at other ways of motivating the farmer aside from the celebration of the Farmers Day. That is why the plan by the government to introduce the farmers’ pension scheme should be supported by all to ensure its fruition.
But all in all, the Daily Graphic is of the view that the country has done well in commemorating the day for our dear farmers and fishers. We join all Ghanaians to thank them for the passion with which they approach their work, which has ensured that citizens have meals on their table.
We encourage them not to give up with any challenges that they may be facing, as we believe at the appropriate time such challenges will be addressed.
To those who will receive awards today, we say congratulations for a good job done. To the rest who may not receive any awards, we are sure your time will come. ‘AYEKOO’ to our hardworking farmers and fishers.