Last Friday (December 3), Ghana showed appreciation to our gallant farmers, whose toils and hard work do not only help put food on our dining table, but also contribute immensely towards the government industrialisation drive.
The elegant durbar, graced by traditional leaders, agricultural value chain operators, sponsors of the day, religious leaders, ministers of state, former National Best Farmers Association with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the special guest.
The grandeur of the event was marked with a showcase of a different variety of fugu, kente and all white outfit with a splendid performance by the Centre for National Culture of Cape Coast with unique and demonstrative dance to give the occasion a cultural flavour.
The Adisadel School Park was littered with array of prices most of which were donated by corporate Ghana as their corporate social responsibility.
This year's celebration was unique in many sense.
A total of 165 farmers and fisherfolks received awards ranking from various farming and fishing implements, crowning it with a GH¢600,000 for the National Best Farmer.
For the first time, since the institution of the award ceremony 37 years ago, the National Best Fisher took home a two-bedroom house.
President Akufo-Addo presenting to Mrs Kweku Ehun (2nd from left), best fisher award at the ceremony. Looking on is Mrs Hawa Koomson (right), Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development. Pictures: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
The climax was glamorous, exciting and a time to celebrate as the Mion District-base multi-million farmer, Alhaji Mashud Mohammed, stepped up to receive a cheque for GH¢600, 000 donated by ADB Bank and to be decorated by President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Aside from the cheque, Alhaji Mohammed also received a Life Cover worth 500,000 from GLICO Ltd and a Broadspectrum Ltd sponsored study tour to Israel.
Receiving a tractor, trailer, a disc plough and a boom sprayer, sponsored by the Exim Bank, was Mr Yidana Sulemana from the East Mamprusi Municipality of the North East Region, for being adjudged 1st Runner-up.
Additionally, Mr Sulemana also went home covered by Gh¢300, 000 GLICO Life Insurance Ltd and a study tour of Israel sponsored by Broadspectrum Ltd.
For picking the 2nd Runner up place as the National Best Farmer, Rev Samuel Sida from the Asunafo North Municipality in the Ahafo Region took home a double cabin Navarra pickup and a GH¢200,000 life insurance cover from GLICO Ltd.
As we all join hands to congratulate our farmers, especially the award winners on their dedication and commitment to contribute to national development, it is important to reflect on a few of the numerous issues raised at the event.
The announcement of an insurance arrangement for farmers, recruitment of more extension officers, and the acknowledgement of the need to produce fertiliser locally by the President, as well as the rollout of cocoa farmers pension plans, were, for me, major highlights worth mentioning.
The fact is that many financial institutions will not willingly and freely doll out funds to a farmer to invest because of the high risk nature of the venture, thanks to natural disasters such as wildfire and drought.
Therefore, an insurance package made available for farmers, deserves the laudest applause and is a big incentive for farmers.
It was also refreshing for the President to acknowledge the shortage of fertiliser on the world market and the direct impact on food production locally.
The current state of fertiliser, reinforces the need for us, as a country, to wean ourself off the over dependency syndrome on the developed world for our basic needs.
Thankfully, President Akufo-Addo announced government's determination to produce fertiliser locally in enough quantity.
It has always been said that the extension officer is the bridge between the farmer and technology and for government to recruit 2,700 in 2019 and has also approved for the recruitment of over a thousand, beginning 2022, should come as a relief for farmers and the drive to ensure food security and subsistence.
Currently, the number of things farmers need to do or adopt to ensure that challenges such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other natural developments that impact negatively on farmers including the absence of extension officers, cannot be over emphasised.
So, while our farmers wait for the completion of the $1.5 billion investment plant, expected to take four years to be completed, there is the need for farmers to resort more to inorganic fertiliser.
These announcements could not have taken place at any better occasion than the National Farmers Day where farmers drawn from all over the country congregated.