National Farmers’ Day is observed every year on the first Friday of December. It commemorates the day set aside to honour the nation’s gallant farmers and fishers, with the event acknowledgingthe important position farmers and fishers occupy in the nation’s socio-economic development.
What the celebration seeks to achieve basically is to motivate those in the sector to improve on productivity in order for Ghana to continually feed her growing population, provide raw materials to industries and contribute substantially to the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.
This year’s celebration is not far from the fundamental objective. In fact, the argument that an African development strategy that is firmly grounded in agricultural and rural development can result in more sustained impact on poverty, is still relevant and valid.Gobind Nankani, Executive Director, International Growth Center, London, and former Vice President for Africa, World Bank, once said “an agriculture based strategy must for now be at thecore of any effective route out of poverty in Africa,” just as China did in the 1980s.According to him, agriculture can be a lead sector for overall growth of an economy in the agriculture-based countries where land is abundant.
Members of the Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists Association want to associate ourselves with this truism. Indeed, rapid agricultural growth in China and India was theprecursor to the rise of industry and services.
Ghana has vast arable lands for agriculture purposes, yet they remain idle, with many young people remaining unemployed, whiles those already in farming are getting drifted away as a result of lack of strong policy direction to serve as incentives to keep them in.Over the years, three major issues – land, education and finance – have been identified as the major constraints for the Ghanaian farmer.
Land in particular is still a major constraint on agricultural investments, both for small farmers and for commercial investments. There is a need to speed up the pace of reform here in a pro-agriculture policy approach as some experts have proposed already.For us as journalists, basic education is critical for small-scale farmers who need to adopt new technologies, seeds and crops for their work. Yes, the nation is making effort in expanding gross enrolments in primary education though; there remains a major unfinished business relating to the quality of education.
For current farmers, adult literacy programme would help them absorb new methods of agriculture, as a way of addressing the change.Another important thing is the issue of credit facility for farmers. Lack of credit, particularly for input purchases, was the most prevalent constraint to agricultural development in a 2007 Ministry of Food and Agriculture survey.
Many of the country’s small-scale farmers have no asset to be used as collateral to secure loan.Meanwhile, Ghana is gradually slipping into the zone of what is termed the “Dutch disease syndrome” with our cash crops and food products becoming less competitive in international markets, after the nation directed most of her efforts at the oil production.
Unless compensatory measures are taken, the agric sector will die out.
We need leadership in thisdirection for sustainable food security and economic growth.On this momentous occasion, we take this opportunity to salute our farmers and fishers for their continuous support to food security and contribution to the economy.Long live our gallant farmers and fishers!Long live Ghana!!
Ernest Kofi Adu