Congratulating the Ghanaian Farmer!

Sat, 6 Dec 2014 Source: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

For sometime now, it has been the political language in Ghana that agriculture is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy. And therefore, just as a human being cannot live without the backbone, there could be no any meaningful development in Ghana without agriculture. It is against this backdrop that the government of Ghana has instituted a national holiday in honour of our hardworking farmers and fishermen. Thus, on the first Friday of December every year, selected farmers and fishermen across the country are given various awards ranging from farming inputs to vehicles and houses. Again, during the occasion, promises upon promises are made as regards how the agricultural sector could be improved for our betterment.

The question then is: how far have our farmers fared in this country, as far as their welfare and farming activities are concerned? Surprisingly, whilst almost all the wealthy people in advanced countries like the UK and US are farmers, the opposite is the case in developing countries such as Ghana. Again, whilst only 3-5% of the population in advanced countries is involved in agriculture, over 60% of the Ghanaian population is involved in agriculture.

The irony however is that, the 5% farmers in the UK are able to feed the 60 million UK population and offer the surplus for sale. Interestingly, the land for agriculture in these advanced countries, apart from not being fertile like ours, is also limited in supply. There is also plenty of arable land that lie waste in Ghana with a sizeable number of unemployed youth who could till the land on the street. In view of this, Ghana is still a net-importer of food, thus affecting the country's balance of payments negatively.

In spite of the efforts being made by the government to improve the agricultural sector, food crops continue to rot and the post-harvest losses alone can feed another country of 20m people. In a nutshell, the major problems facing agriculture, that is, poor road network, land tenure system, bad weather conditions, financial constraints, lack of mechanisation etc, have been with us since time immemorial.

Although, there is a sector minister in charge of agriculture, and there are many agricultural institutions in Ghana, it seems the solution to the above-mentioned problems have eluded them. My question is; why can't the nation solve at least one single problem of agriculture for once? For me, if the government of Ghana is serious about addressing poverty among the populace, then it is imperative to give priority attention not only to education, but to agriculture and education at the same time.

Everybody would agree with me that our farmers deserve better than the lip service being paid to them on yearly basis. It is time for the government to walk the talk; let's give affordable loans to farmers; let's supply them with improved seeds; and build silos to avoid post-harvest losses. Let's construct all roads in the hinterlands; Let's mechanise agriculture; institute producer prices for other products; and finally let's add value to these agricultural products in order to feed the citizenry well and get more from the exports.

In this way, Ghana could move from a net-importer of food to a net-exporter of food. This would strengthen the country's balance of payments through foreign exchange earnings, reduce unemployment rate, and increase productivity. The industrial sector, which has not seen any significant improvement over the years could also benefit from the raw materials from the agricultural sector because of the backward and forward linkages between the two sectors.

As a farmer, I would like all my well-wishers to join me in saying "Ayekoo" to all Ghanaian farmers on this great occasion.

God bless Ghana! God bless Ghanaian farmers!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri. Email: katakyienpp@yahoo.co.uk

Mobile: 0547851100 : 0264931361 : 0202471070

"Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success"

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku