The Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) yesterday handed over a cheque for GH¢480,000 to the government for presentation to Mr James Obeng Boateng as his prize for being adjudged the 2018 National Best Farmer.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, received the cheque on behalf of the government from the Managing Director of the ADB, Dr John Kofi Mensah, and presented it to Mr Boateng.
The presentation was in fulfilment of the bank’s commitment as the headline sponsor of the 2018 National Farmers Day.
It followed the acceptance of Mr Boateng’s business proposal on the use of the prize money by the bank.
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Among other suggestions, Mr Boateng, in his proposal, pledged to use the money to improve his 1,000-acre farm at Nyinase, near Nkoranza in the Bono Region, and also use part to build a two-bedroom farmhouse, buy a tractor and four polytanks and also dig four mechanised boreholes.
The proposals also included the employment of 30 more workers, the bulldozing of five acres of land, the buying of seeds, feed, medications and tricycles, as well as the repair of access roads leading to his farm.
Commitment of ADB
In a brief statement before the presentation of the cheque, Dr Mensah pledged the bank’s continuous commitment to ensure that the agricultural sector remained a critical part of the national economic growth.
“To ensure this, we have expanded our Agricultural Department into an Agricultural Business Division, headed by a General Manager.
“The Agribusiness Division has been departmentalised into Agricultural Value Chain and Agricultural Services Department, which captures all the sectors in agriculture.
The department is available to facilitate loans and offer advisory services to customers in the crops, livestock, poultry, marine, cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits and other export commodities,” Dr Mensah explained.
Role of Agribusiness Division
He added that the Agricultural Services Department was available to also facilitate loans, as well as offer advisory services to customers in agro-marketing, while the value chain infrastructure unit dealt with customers who were into haulage, warehousing, mechanisation and other agriculture-related businesses.
“We have also decentralised the division and have dedicated agricultural desk officers at selected branches nationwide,” he said.
Dr Mensah announced that soon, the bank would hold an agricultural business forum with key stakeholders within the sector to offer further insights into the funding opportunities that existed at ADB for farmers.
For his part, Dr Akoto thanked the bank for its sustained interest in the National Farmers Day celebration over the years as the headline sponsor, adding: “You have always been the leaders in patronising this event.”
He was happy that the country had moved from the traditional approach of building houses for the winner to giving him or her the option to choose what would be his or her priority.
Dr Akoto commended the ADB for that and added that winners attained that height because of the communities in which they operated.
He said the 2018 National Best Farmer had given a new image of agriculture to all and commended him for the choice he had made regarding what he would do with his prize money.
“It shows that the man is a committed farmer,” the minister added.
National Best Farmer
Responding, Mr Boateng expressed gratitude to the MoFA for changing the face of the agricultural sector of the country and also the ADB for headlining the sponsorship and facilitating the works of farmers.
He said for him, the award would be useful when it began to impact on the community where he operated and the entire society.
He pledged to account for his stewardship as the winner by next December when the 2019 winner was announced.
He was excited that he was touching lives in his community, as well as some universities in the country which had approached him to make his farm available for their students to visit and use for their practical training.