By Rachel Kakraba.
Hundreds of farmers and Fishers are being honoured across Ghana, on Friday, November 3, 2021, as part of the 37th edition of National Farmers’ Day. It is observed annually on the first Friday of December to recognize the vital role farmers and fishers play in the economy.
This year’s event is themed: ‘Planting for Food and Jobs – Consolidating Food Systems in Ghana’. In a year where farming has been confronted with fertilizer shortages, GBCGhanaonline.com looks at this year’s celebrations in the midst of fertilizer inadequacies as well as ways to make Agriculture attractive to the youth for livelihood.
A world Bank report indicates Ghana’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture, employing about 42% of the workforce and contributing about 19.7% of the national gross domestic product (GDP). To sustain livelihoods the government has put in place innovative programmes and initiatives, key among them is the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme. Just when farmers were looking forward to improving gains made within the sector this year, it was saddled with fertilizer challenges. This development some farmers lament has forced them to reduce acreage of their farms, endangering food security. Speaking to GBC News some of the farmers said, “the situation with the fertilizer is bad, even when you have money you cannot get any to buy, we don’t understand what is really going on. The shortages in fertilizer affect our business because it is dependent on it.”
“The fertilizer is not there, even the one that is not subsidized we cannot get it”.
“Because the fertilizer is very costly like that, I can’t farm seven acres again. I want to farm only two acres”
“This year I’m compelled to reduce my seventy acre farm to thirty acres, because we can’t get fertilizer to buy, a bag of subsidized fertilizer which used to go for 45 cedis is now selling between 70 to 80 cedis and other fertilizer in town it is selling between 100 and 160 cedis”.
For a former national Best Farmer and National Secretary Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen, Rev. Lemuel Martey, challenges in the Agriculture sector goes beyond current fertilizer challenges. He said the sector is considered a high risk business making it lose out on investment. To him agriculture requires deliberate policies to turn its fortunes around.
“When it comes to loan facility for instance, the bank’s agric is considered the number threat, it is not viable and nobody will want to put money into agric. When it comes to inputs, we are looking at the rising prices of fuel and we are using machinery. Getting people to even work is another big problem. Government policies to help agriculture are also one of the difficult areas in agriculture”.
The annual National Farmers Day is a unique opportunity to celebrate Ghanaian farmers and fishers for their immense contribution to the agricultural sector. A move to consolidate gains made in the sector will require whipping up interest of the youth. The question is how desirous are the Ghanaian youth to venture into Agriculture?
A cross section of them who spoke to GBCGhanaonline.com were not enthused to go into the sector.
“In Ghana we normally see elderly people do farming and it’s not something that I see to involve youth. Youth are people that like things that are beautiful, things that are modern.”
“I am not interested in agriculture basically because I think it has more to do with manpower, it has to do with men.”
“I don’t see myself venturing into agriculture because, I believe nowadays agriculture is not about how cutlasses go to weed, but it is about mechanized farming which is very very capital intensive and I’m not ready.”
Asked about strategies to make agriculture attractive, especially to the youth some of them said, “Government should invest into getting us 50% off the machine or pay a percentage you get them and use on the farm. I think youth will like it because I can’t go to school and come back to use hoe and cutlasses meanwhile there are other means that could make it”.
“Prices of goods keep increasing I believe if the youth will be supported with necessary farming equipment we will put in efforts to sustain livelihoods.”
Farmers Day, also acknowledges the contribution of Fishers who have immensely worked to meet the protein needs of the country. The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development says it remains resolute to support the Aquaculture sector, especially as it supports an all year round production. Sector Minister, Mavis Hawa Koomson, indicated under her watch the ministry is doing all it can to support the sector.
“Fish in the marines and rivers are depleting, when we bring on Aquaculture it will help us. Government is encouraging Aquaculture for food and jobs and we need more people to come on board.”
Agriculture has several sectors which when well-developed has the potential to end Ghana’s ever increasing unemployment situation.
Lack of access to finance and extension services, ready market, logistics and labour confront farmers and fishers daily, yet farmers and fishers continue to break their backs just to satisfy the nutritional needs of Ghanaians. The road may not have been smooth for these farmers and fishers but certainly celebrating the day is worth it.
To all farmers and fishers, GBCGhanaonline.com says ayekoo!!