Minister for Food and Agriculture Hon. Owusu Afriyie Akoto (MP) today eulogized the country’s hardworking farmers and fishermen for their sustained effort in providing food for the people amid serious challenges
He remarked that farmers and fishermen toil in the fields and turbulent seas to bring food to our dining tablets, provide raw materials to keep the wheels of industry turning and provide products needed in the world market to rake in the needed foreign exchange for development.
The Minister particularly acknowledged the good performance of farmers in agri-business who take raw animals, crops, vegetables or marine materials and transform them into edible products through the application of labour, machinery, energy and scientific knowledge.
The Food and Agriculture Minister, who is also the MP for Kwadaso commended government for continuing with interventions initiated by previous administrations to increase food production in the country and declared he was proud of cocoa farmers in particular as they achieved the unprecedented output for the nation.
Hon. Owusu Afriyie Akoto was delivering a statement to mark the 35th Farmers Day Celebration, which falls on Friday December 6, 2019, scheduled for Ho in the Volta Region which has the theme ‘Enhancing Small Scale Agriculture towards Agri-Business Development’
He said available information indicates that 60% of the Ghanaian population live and earn their livelihood through agriculture in the rural areas but unfortunately, value-added in agriculture contributes only 20% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hence the widespread rural poverty which can be attributed to low agriculture productivity.
He revealed that the land tenure policy system is also a major contributing constraint confronting small-holder farmers in the cultivation, production, storage, processing and distribution of agricultural products.
The Minister however noted that the Ministry has put in place the necessary strictures for formulating the appropriate policy responses to arrest or to reduce the impact of these challenges and make farming more attractive as a way of life and a profitable business.
He assured Ghanaians that input subsidy programmes for farm machinery such as tractors and combined harvesters, water pumps, seed, fertilizer and other chemicals are ongoing and pointed out that the Government was sustaining and deepening these initiatives so that production and productivity at the farm level could be on the rise for targeted commodities.
Members of the House congratulated the farmers and fishermen and entreated government to give them the needed motivation, equipment and infrastructure to improve productivity for their invaluable contributions to food sufficiency and the overall development the country has received through their untiring efforts.
Both the Majority Leader Osei-Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu extolled the virtues and the unrelenting efforts of the farmers and fishermen for their invaluable contributions to the country’s agricultural sustenance.
Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu disclosed that the government will ensure as many farmers as possible have access to farm machinery, tools and necessary agricultural inputs and subsidies and urged them to take advantage of the flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme in order to ensure its sustainability.
The Minority Haruna Iddrisu said the performance of the state in providing adequate tools for farmers and fishermen is appalling and pointed out that since the NPP government took over the reins of governance, the state has been talking about improving the livelihood of farmers but up to date, not a single meaningful promise had been fulfilled.
He called on government to provide adequate financial assistance to farmers and fishermen to enable them increase productivity and provide them with adequate social amenities such as schools and clinics in farming communities so their children could get access to improved education and healthcare.
National Farmers Day was instituted in 1985 by then Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government after the industries showed a 30 percent growth in 1984 which was a significant improvement over 1982 and 1983 years when the country suffered a severe drought.
It is celebrated on the first Friday of December each year to recognise the contributions of farmers and fishermen in the country and is designed to pay respect to the importance of the farming and fishing industry in the socio-economic growth of Ghana.
The Day was first celebrated in Osino, located in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where the drought was most severe and an award prize package consisting two machetes, a pair of Wellington boots and a pre-set radio was given to the best farmer.