God is the Farmer; all other farmers are the “labourers”. But how blessed we are in Ghana for the many farm labourers we have!
From the award-winning farmers and the unsung farm heroes and fisherfolk, we bestow honours and our deepest gratitude.
The good Lord, I repeat, is the Farmer. He created the land and enriched it with nutrients that make crops grow and produce. He created the animals into a husbandry to reproduce themselves. The rivers, lakes, and oceans he filled with fish.
He then created the first labourers, put them in the farm called Garden, and instructed them to cultivate it, grow crops, and feed on the land.
God’s creative power and the sheer variety of his creation are amazing. Consider the dozens of food crops for human consumption – maize, rice, millet, cassava, yam, plantain, potato and all the vegetables.
How about feed crops? Feed crops are for livestock; fibre crops for textiles, ropes, upholstery and mattresses; oil crops for edible oil, lubricants, pharmaceutical products, soaps and medicines; and industrial crops for starch, dye, rubber, and insecticides.
Most medicines are plant-based, likewise all foods. When some greedy people decided to create synthetic rice, the result was wicked and deadly.
Check out the variety of fish – tilapia, red fish, tuna, salmon, herring and sardines. We are told one female fish can hatch up to 500,000 fingerlings per year.
How about poultry? Chicken, duck, guinea fowl, turkey, ostrich, quail, swan, goose – and these are just a fraction of what Ghanaian farmers raise in their poultry farms.
Then come the animals – cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and others. To avoid controversy, let me leave out cats, dogs, snakes, and frogs which are delicacies in certain quarters. My point is to acknowledge that God, the great Farmer, is the master Creator of variety.
Ghana’s arable land is one of the blessings we acknowledge when we sing, “God bless our homeland Ghana!”
From Axim to Paga, Keta to Bunkpurugu, our land gives back to us what we put into it. Even in the savanna grasslands and rocky Sakogu hills, crops grow and animals feed on grass.
Besides the arable land, Ghana is also grateful to God for rainfall. Although global warming is affecting the rainfall pattern worldwide, our country continues to receive our fair share of rain to water our land, replenish our rivers and deposit in wetlands.
From the days of “Operation Feed Yourself” to the current “Planting for food and jobs”, Ghanaians have been encouraged to grow what we eat and eat what we grow – even from our backyards.
This reminds me of the terrifying days in our history when food was so scarce that starvation stared us in the face.
In Tamale, my friend Samuel Appiah and I took our hoes and headed for an acre of plot behind the school where he worked.
There we cultivated maize and later harvested two bags of the precious cereal. I still remember the kind-hearted woman who cooked balls of Fante kenkey every week for these two bachelors that became the weapons for fighting the rough days of food shortage in the late seventies and early eighties.
While we are recounting the blessing farming brings to our nation, let me mention in passing “enemies” confronting our farmers – some obvious, others subtle – which must be addressed.
Pests, such as army worms and locusts are deadly to crop farming, likewise bird flu and improper fishing practices using unapproved nets.
When we mention drought as enemy, we must also mention floods from the annual Bagre Dam spillage that devastates farmers and their crops and animals.
But it is precisely because of the possibility of drought that God has endowed this country with streams, rivers, and lakes for irrigation. Even the Bagre Dam spillage can be harvested for agricultural use.
Bush fire once consumed my brother’s entire maize farm. These bush fires, like post-harvest losses, are enemies; likewise the strange lack of fertiliser and modern farm implements.
One farmer told me that certain weedicides, nicknamed “condemn”, actually destroy not only the weeds but the nutrients in the soil. Therefore, some weedicides are enemies!
When I used to work in the bank in Tamale, our agriculture department often received reports that some rice farmers, in order to postpone the payment of loans granted them, would deliberately burn down their rice farms! Enemies!
God bless our farmers who work so hard throughout the year to produce the crops and the meat we need. Without them, we would all starve.
The next time you tell the market woman, “Please give me a bunch of plantains,” or the food vendor, “Two balls of kenkey, please, and one fried fish,” think about the farmer.
The writer is a publisher, author, writer-trainer and CEO of Step Publishers.