A ranking member of the Food and Agriculture Committee of Parliament Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto has said Farmers’ Day is not worth celebrating anymore because it has lost its relevance.
The day, instituted some 30 years ago, is commemorated each year on the first Friday of December to acknowledge and honour the country’s farmers and fisherfolk.
But Dr Akoto wants the celebration scrapped.
Speaking to Class News’ parliamentary correspondent, Ekow Annan, he said Farmers’ Day is a sad day for farmers because of what is happening to the agricultural sector in the country, going by the latest figures provided in this year’s budget.
“The government is admitting that the crop subsector, where most of the nearly five million farmers are located, shrunk; it didn’t grow or stagnate, it shrunk by 1.7 percent,” he said.
According to him, government said the agriculture sector grew by 0.04 percent, which, in his opinion, means it was stagnant without any growth.
He said there can be a shrink only if there is a drought, as was the case in 2007 and 2011. “Did you hear of any drought in 2015,” he questioned.
“The rains were delayed in the minor season, but it came, so that is no excuse. It is what the government is not doing right which is hurting agriculture badly, so, it’s a sad day for farmers not a day to rejoice,” he added.
“If I have my way I will scrap it. This is like ‘fan-fool respect,’ as they say in the military barracks… You are honouring a group of citizens in this country for work that they do for which they don’t have the tools and because of which their activities are reducing”.
He suggested that government should increase the budgetary allocation for agriculture and provide infrastructure for marketing to help develop the sector.
In a rebuttal, however, the vice chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee, Bright Demordzi disagreed and said such celebrations motivate farmers to give off their best.
“In development there is a need for psychological perspective of every development agenda, and you need to psyche your people. You need to give hope to your people that whatever you are doing, there is somebody somewhere watching you and one day you will be rewarded. That is the whole psychology of awards,” he argued.
He expressed shock that a key stakeholder in the agriculture sector would say the awards should be scrapped.
According to him, government is giving 50 million cocoa seedlings and free fertilizers to farmers and so expressed shock that anybody will come out to say government is not supporting the sector.