Once again various districts, municipals and regional capitals would be awash with activity as we mark the contribution of our hardworking farmers. Today marks the 30th National Farmers Day celebration, which is on the theme: “Eat what you grow”.
The National Farmers Day was instituted and first held in 1985 to help find solutions to the challenges confronting farmers through an award system that motivates and opens up opportunities for hardworking farmers.
It is a fact that farmers are not only a vital part of our economy, they impact positively on our communities at both the national and local levels.
As expected, farmers who distinguished themselves during the calendar year (2013-2014) would be recognized. Some of them are expected to romp home with mouthwatering prizes amid pomp and pageantry, as we continue to turn a blind eye to the very pressing matters stalling the growth of the sector.
Studies have shown that the contribution of agriculture to Ghana’s socio-economic development, for the past five years, has fast dwindled as it contributes just one-quarter of GDP though it employs more than half of the country’s workforce, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
The growth rate reduced from 7.4% in 2008, it reduced slightly to 7.2% in 2009 then to 5.3% in 2010. There was hardly any growth in the following year with only 0.8% in 2011 picking up slightly to only 2.6% in 2012. In this year’s Budget Statement growth is targeted at an unambitious 4.9%.
We would be lucky if half of the target can be attained, industry watchers have predicted. It is against this backdrop that I support the stance taken by a group calling themselves Concerned Farmers Association of Ghana who have publicly urged their colleagues to boycott today’s celebrations.
The farmers made up of cocoa farmers, rice growers, poultry, livestock and vegetable farmers said the boycott is to protest of government neglect of the sector, an Accra based radio station, Adom FM reported. Without mincing words I believe the performance of successive governments, particularly the current regime has been awful.
Fiifi Faivi Kwetey, who is now the sector minister, is just a square peg in a round hole and it is no surprising that the aggrieved farmers labeled him as a non-performing asset, whose directive since taking over the ministry has been so destructive. The minister doesn’t seem to get anything right in that sector. The last time I checked his only “achievement” is to ensure government owes about GHC100 million in bonuses to our industrious cocoa farmers.
Another show of ineptitude is for government to allocate a paltry one percent budget allocation to the Ministry of Agric and Fisheries. It is clearly a sign of decision-makers managing the symptom instead of curing the disease.
Certainly, the Farmers Day Celebration would remain irrelevant and mere rhetoric if more support is not given to farmers. With all this said and done… I say Ayekoo, to all farmers for their worthy contribution to mankind.