39th National Farmers Day: Corporate sponsorship challenges, matters arising
The National Farmers Day, which acknowledges the role of farmers in the country, is celebrated annually to show the country’s gratitude to them for putting food on dining tables daily.
Every year, items worth thousands of Ghana cedis go to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) for onward presentation to deserving farmers for distinguishing themselves in ensuring that food is served on the table daily.
But this could not have been possible without the commitment and generosity of corporate Ghana through donations of items and cash.
Over the years, some companies and institutions have always supported the ministry to make the celebration not only successful but also eventful.
Consistently over the years, some companies have made it a point to always give towards the celebration, even when there is economic crisis.
The celebration has evolved over the years, with the introduction of innovative ideas and new prize categories; thus, calling for more sponsorship.
This year’s celebration, the 39th edition is no exception.
For instance, this year, a total of 15 award categories of farmers will receive recognition at the awards night in Tarkwa.
These are the Overall National Best Farmer, the 1st and 2nd runners-up National Best Farmers and 12 others, including the National Best Livestock Farmer, the National Best Female Farmer, the National Best Physically Challenged Farmer, the Overall National Best Fisher, the National Best Marine Fisher and the National Best Inland Fisher.
The rest are the National Best Fisher Farmer, the National Best Fish Processor, the National Best Cocoa Farmer, the National Best Most Promising Young Cocoa Farmer, the National Best Most Enterprising Cocoa and the Female Farmer and National Best Shea Nut Picker.
At the regional level, there would be five regional award categories per region, namely the Regional Best Farmer, the Regional Best Livestock Farmer, the Regional Best Female Farmer, the Regional Best Fisher, and the Regional Physically Challenged Farmer.
The district-level celebrations are expected to be held in the 261 districts and will cover three categories per district, namely the District Best Farmer, the District Best Livestock Farmer and the District Best Crop Farmer.
It is at this point that companies such as the ADB Bank, Ghana EXIM Bank and Stanbic Bank have stood tall for over a decade now.
The three, over the years, donated the overall, first and second-runners-up prizes respectively.
Last week, Ghana EXIM Bank donated an LS plus 80 Tractor (80HP 4WD) and accessories worth GH¢711,000 with a life-span of 30 years to be presented to the First Runner-Up, while Stanbic Bank also presented a 375 Massey Ferguson valued at about GH¢560,000 to be presented to the Second Runner-Up.
ADB, which has been the headline sponsor for over two decades, which began with a three-bedroom house to the release of money for the winner for a specific project of expansion of the activities is yet to crown the presentation.
No doubt, these institutions and the over 50 others that have done this over the years deserve commendation for their commitment to the agriculture sector to ensure food sufficiency and security.
The worrying trend in recent times, however, has been the declining numbers of donor institutions even though the demand for the prizes remains the same if not even more.
Even though some companies sometimes make their donations at the forecourt of the programme, as of yesterday Sunday, November 26, less than 20 companies have donated towards the event with less than five days to go.
Indeed, the weeklong agricultural festival dubbed Agrifest Ghana 2023 has already started today, Monday, November 27 to be climaxed on Friday, December 1, 2023.
I believe the time has come for the ministry to take a retrospective account of its dealing with corporate Ghana, especially the regular donors, to ascertain what might have caused their disinterest in the support of this worthy cause.
Some felt the ministry had not shown enough appreciation, while others felt that their support, especially the items did not get to the final beneficiaries who are the farmers.
These are issues that need to be looked at seriously.
That is particularly so because most of the donor companies are always at the climax where the farmers are awarded and their products are often nowhere among the items presented to the farmers.
The question is: Has the ministry taken the pain to engage the companies one-on-one or as a group to seek their opinions on their contribution and the way forward for this worthy cause or it is just business as usual?
The National Farmers Day has come a long way and after almost 40 years of its existence, it should be companies fighting to be among the lead sponsors and not just one of them, or not just wait for appeals from the ministry for donations for the day.
Unless there is a radical response by corporate Ghana to the appeals by the ministry, the possibility of the ministry voting money for the celebration of the 39th edition from its scanty resources is high.
Except for the publication of the donations in the media, very little is heard of the contribution until during the climax, when the master of the ceremony occasionally mentions the list of sponsors.
The ministry must relook at the publicity aspect to give the sponsors confidence to give more and also be open to the distribution of prize logistics for confidence in the day and the award to our gallant farmers.