Another National Farmers’ Day celebration is here with us, and this year’s observance is focused on “Enhancing Small Scale Agriculture towards Agribusiness Development.”
At long last, the nation is moving beyond the mindset which views agriculture as a means of sustainable food production and a sector important to economic development. Gradually, the Government and the citizens are embracing agriculture as a business.
The evolution from agriculture to agribusiness, we are told, has brought with it numerous benefits, including better quality of food, a greater variety of products and improved nutrition.
This landmark paradigm shift of focus will help the nation’s farmers to deal with production inefficiencies and the high cost of production that negatively affects the profitability of agricultural production locally, and makes imports cheaper and attractive to traders.
However, the attempt to enhance small scale agriculture towards agribusiness will remain intent if it is not backed by a considerable deliberate policy of the government to improve farmer access to production inputs such as improved seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, and farm management through farmer education.
We learnt that inputs were the driven force behind the green revolution that raised agricultural productivity in Asia.
Successive governments have tried to improve farmer access to inputs though, we, members of the Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA), do not think that those attempts have done much to transform the agriculture sector.
While we are about this, it is important to point out that poor infrastructure, high transport costs, poor roads to farms, land acquisition, tenure issues, and social and environmental problems are other challenges that inhibit agriculture productivity.
We, therefore, entreat Government to give priority attention to addressing these problems in order to achieve the transformation agenda in the sector.
Again, we take this opportunity to draw the Government’s attention to the plight of cashew farmers, who continuously suffer from price instability for their produce. Within the space of one year, the price of 100 kilograms of cashew has slumped from GH¢1,000 in 2018 to GH¢200 in 2019, and this could deteriorate further.
It was on the basis of this that cashew farmers in the Bono Region suspended sale of raw cashew in the early part of this year. We urge the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to take a critical look at this phenomenon to save our farmers from going down.
This association believes the passing of the Tree Crop Development Bill into law can partly address this problem by guaranteeing price stability in the cashew sector.
What is more, land ownership remains a challenge for female farmers as a result of cultural factors in some parts of the country? It is the expectation of the association that the Government will liaise with traditional authorities and community leaders to secure farmlands for our women.
On this momentous occasion, we take this opportunity to salute our gallant farmers and fishers for their hard work and contribution to economic development.
Long live our farmers and fishers!
Long live agriculture sector!
Long live the Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists Association!
Richmond Frimpong (President)
026 890 9020
Ernest Kofi Adu (General Secretary)
0243 165 5584