A 50-year-old farmer from Dormaa in the Brong-Ahafo Region, Philip Kwaku Agyemang, was adjudged the overall best farmer for 2017 at the 33rd National Farmers’ Day celebration in Kumasi yesterday.
Mr. Agyemang, who grows a variety of food crops with 28 years’ experience in farming, beat 66 other farmers and agric workers to emerge the winner at the ceremony attended by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
For his prize, he took home $100,000 cash provided by the Agricultural Development Bank (adb) which has been very supportive of the Farmers’ Day celebrations, National Farmers’ Forum and the cocktail – a dialogue platform for award winners.
The best farmer will take the cash in lieu of the usual house so that he can use it for whatever he wishes.
Mr Philip Agyemang shared honours with John Quansah from the Central Region, who was adjudged the National Best Fish Farmer for the year.
Mabel Ann Akoto from Hohoe in the Volta Region emerged the National Best Farmer first runner-up, while Rebecca Commey of Ga South in the Greater Accra Region was crowned the National Best Farmer second runner-up.
Additionally, five farmers from each of the 10 regions, 12 fish farmers and 12 cocoa farmers, as well as some other farmers and agric extension services agents were honoured and presented with various prizes for their contributions to the development of various commodities.
The event, which was held under the theme, “Planting for Food and Jobs,” brought together farmers from the length and breadth of the country, government officials and other high-profile personalities.
The Chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Serebour, who doubles as the paramount chief of the Juabeng Traditional Area in the Ashanti Region, was also in attendance.
In an address, President Akufo-Addo sent his government’s warmest felicitations to the country’s gallant and hardworking farmers, fishers and agricultural workers for their support and contributions to the growth of the economy.
According to the president, the theme for this year’s celebration was inspired by the government’s vision to transform and modernize agriculture, and that it is anchored in his flagship initiative dubbed, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs.’
“I’m glad that the programme has caught the public’s attention and imagination. We all buy into agriculture as the source of wealth and job. Ours is a blessed land; we have all the ingredients not only to feed ourselves, but also to generate jobs, create wealth and prosperity through modernization and change in attitude towards agriculture,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo pointed out that Ghana was in danger for allowing agriculture to fall into the doldrums and funny excuses were given for why that was happening.
He said the contribution of agriculture in the last 10 years had depreciated from a high of 42 percent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to a low of 18.5 percent in 2016.
“Some say Ghana may be suffering from the Dutch disease in the wake of discovery and production of oil. Others have attributed the decline to the growth of the services sector. While there may be some merit in all these suggestions, I am persuaded that there is still a lot to be gained in modernizing and investing in agriculture,” he emphasised.
He stated emphatically that problems of post-harvest losses, low productivity, low application of technology, insufficient agric financing, land tenure issues and weaknesses in the agriculture value chain, contributed to the misfortune of the agricultural growth.
“We can and should overcome these problems. We should keep our focus and ensure effective and efficient implementation of policies and programmes,” he asserted and called on all and sundry to rally behind the government to give agriculture the impetus and support needed for it to take its pride of place.
Nana Addo disclosed that agriculture remains a priority of his administration and that the government’s prescription for tackling the problems of the agricultural sector is to operationalise a comprehensive plan to enhance food security, improve farm productivity, strengthen linkages with industry and thereby, create jobs, improve rural livelihoods and wealth for all Ghanaians.
The thrust of the key policies in pursuit of the objectives, he noted, is to promote agribusiness by placing emphasis on agricultural value chain development in partnership with the private sector.
“We believe this is the way to transform Ghana’s agriculture, as we target to move from subsistence to a business centred approach to agriculture,” he posited.
President Akufo-Addo said the government aims to pay attention to all, and not neglect any sub-sector in the pursuit of its goal, intimating that so far, there had been numerous interventions in the crops, fisheries and livestock sub-sectors, as part of the government’s agenda to transform agriculture.
“The efforts are producing encouraging results, even though a lot more remains to be done,” he pointed out and added that the crops sector, which is the key driver of growth of the agricultural sector, has, this year, benefited from various interventions through the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme.
“These include the distribution of improved seeds, improved extension services, acquisition of agricultural machinery and equipment from Brazil under the ‘More Food International Programme,’ among others,” he claimed.
Most of these equipment, President Akufo-Addo disclosed, were being used in diverse ways along the agricultural value chain, which includes land preparation, seeding, crop protection, harvesting and primary processing.
“I am pleased to learn that farmers and operators are being trained to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills to operate the machinery professionally. Linked to this, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has established two agricultural mechanisation training centres at Wenchi and Adidome, with funding support from the Government of Japan. This is to prolong the lifespan of the equipment to ensure their optimum use and benefit to farmers,” he announced.