Farmers’ Day Was instituted in 1985 to recognize and reward deserving Ghanaian farmers. This is done to acknowledge them for their efforts for the following reasons:
- Working hard to feed the nation.
- Providing raw materials to the nation’s industry.
- Contributing to the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.
The celebration was necessitated following drought and bushfires between 1982-1984 which caused severe food shortage and loss of livelihood to farmers.
In 1983, about 1 million Ghanaians were deported from Nigeria which aggravated the famine situation in the country.
However, in 1984, the National Mobilisation Programme was formed to salvage the situation. The NMP cleared and replanted cocoa farms. In addition, schools, roads and other facilities were built under the NMP.
At the end of the year (1984) the NMP organized a programme to celebrate the gallant role of farmers in reviving the country’s agriculture sector. This set the pace for the National Farmers Day to be celebrated in December 1986 at Osino, Eastern Region where farmers from all over the country converged for the celebration of their efforts.
The package to the first best farmers was made of up to two (2) machetes, a pair of Wellington boots, and a preset radio set.
The award, however, has grown over the years to a 3 bedroom house valued at $100,000, a pick up truck, and an agricultural tractor as at 2017.
As the awards keep growing, so is the age of our farmers: currently, the average age of a farmer in Ghana is 55 years, the education level of farmers is low and income is poor. With the average age at 55, it literally means all our farmers will retire in 5 years. If this happens, how do we feed our nation? (Either import food or encourage the youth to farm).
To reverse this trend, the youth must embrace farming as a profession and an occupation. However, the government must put some programmes in place to attract and retain the youth in the agriculture sector. Some of these measures are:
- Education: the youth must be educated both theoretically and practicality in the production, management, processing and marketing of various crops and animals. They must be educated in the importance of the agriculture sector to the country. It will not be out of place to reintroduce the Agriculture Science programme at the Junior High School level. It was a big mistake we did as a country to merge such an important subject with another one at the JHS level.
In addition, the content and curriculum at the SHS and Tertiary levels should be revised to include emerging technologies so as to address emerging problems. The need for the introduction of courses such as Agricultural Law, Greenhouse Technology, Irrigation Technology, etc cannot be over emphasised.
- Provision of Irrigation facilities for all year round production (sprinkler, drip, canals systems depending on the location and crops). This is very useful to give supplementary water to crops when rain is low and encourage all year round production of fruits and vegetables.
- Financial Assistance in terms of guarantees for the youth to acquire loan facilities from the financial institutions for agricultural purposes.
- Provision of good road networks for easy transportation of produce to the market.
- Warehouses and more importantly, Cold Storage facilities for Fruits, Vegetables, fish and meat products.
- Production and importation of simple tools and machinery such as the rotary hoe (rotovator) instead of the full-scale tractor, brush cutters, solar dryers, shellers, simple harvesters for grains and cereals etc. These will encourage the youth to accept farming than the current situation of manual labour.
On the part of the youth, they should have positive attitude towards work in general and farming in particular. They should look at farming as a business rather than for feeding the family; farming as for the educated rather than for the uneducated; farming by choice, rather than by circumstances.
They must not always think of starting big from the beginning; start small and expand.
The youth can form groups and associations for farming and agribusiness purposes.
If these suggestions are implemented and done well, the future of Ghana’s Agriculture will be brighter.
I want to use the opportunity to congratulate all award winners at the national, regional and district levels all over the country.
To all other farmers I say Ayekoo.
By: Kofi Tamakloe.
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