The 2014 National Best Farmer, Mr. George Asamoah Amankwaa, has said the national farmers’ award scheme should be revised to support the expansion of farms of award winners as regards putting up structures for them.
He said the support could come in the form of the provision of state of the art machinery that can be used to expand the farms and employ more hands.
He noted that the construction of houses does not motivate farmers enough but if such funds are used to procure machines it will ‘incentivize’ farmers, and go a long way to develop their farms.
The National Farmers Day is commemorated each year on the first Friday of December to honour farmers and fishers. The event acknowledges the vital position Farmers and Fishers occupy in the nations socio-economic development.
As part of the programme of activities usually planned for the celebration ‘prizes are awarded to deserving farmers and fishers in order of best practices and outputs.’
Mr. Amankwaa, who was adjudged the National Best Farmer in the year 2014, is into teak, cocoa, plantain, banana, cassava, and life stock aquaculture farming among others.
Speaking in an interview during a field tour of his farm, at Derma in the Tano South of the Brong Ahafo region, he said farming can be a lucrative venture but for those who have the requisite capital to invest in the farms.
He however, explained that access to credit remains one of the main challenges facing large scale farmers in the country.
He said the irony of the situation is that farmers also have to access credit at 35 and 40 percent interest rates, just like their counterparts who are into export and import.
Mr. Amankwah therefore opined that government need to set up an agricultural fund which can be accessed solely by large scale farmers at a rate of five percent so they can expand their farms.
He also emphasized the need for government to channel resources into storage facilities to store farm produce in times of bumper harvest.
This, he said will cut down the loss of investment of farmers during bumper harvest as farmers are forced to sell below the market prices for fear of their produce going bad.
He indicated that poor roads leading to farms also contribute to the low interest shown by the youth in farming, and therefore called for the provision of basic amenities to farming communities.
Mr. Amankwah was optimistic that this will significantly contribute to make farming attractive to the youth.