Dr Amos Mensah, an agricultural economist says he has reservations about Ghana’s annually celebrated Farmers’ Day.
Farmers’ day is used to celebrate farmers across the length and breadth of the country.
On the first Friday of December when the national occasion is observed, the best national and regional farmers are awarded.
It’s been 38 years since this was instituted in Ghana but Dr Mensah believes the celebration is just a “political show”.
Speaking in an interview with Opemsuo Radio’s interim political show host KOD, he said, “there is a huge controversy on the selection of the best farmers. You have to have some (political) connections and those sorts of things.”
Aside from that, he spoke of the “ineffectiveness” of the yearly occasion.
“How long have we been doing this farmers’ day award? We have been doing this all the time and food prices are increasing. Food insecurity is going up. If it is not just a show, then we have to see the impact on the ground.”
“It’s not effective”, he stated.
Ghana’s Agric Sector
He is of the strong opinion that Ghana will not go far as long as the agricultural sector is neglected by governments.
“Ghana is an Agrarian economy but with our attitude towards Agric currently, we won’t get the full impact of the sector. The needed finance for the sector is not what is pumped into it. Agriculture is capital intensive…Maize, cassava and others are some of our main crops. In all the budgets the country has had, which of them targeted any of these crops to increase production?”
“In Ghana, we are over-concentrating on cocoa. What about the main staple foods? What program do we have for cassava? During the tenure of President Kufuor, there was a policy for growing cassava for industrial purposes but the programme didn’t go far.”
According to Dr Mensah, the government must focus on providing farmers with ultra-modern farm implements and storage facilities apart from fertilisers for farmers to go on a large scale.
“It looks as if we are talking about agriculture but we are not doing what we need to do to support farmers. In Ghana, we need a lot of large-scale farmers. Large-scale farmers in Ghana are not even up to a hundred. A lot of our farmers are into small-scale farming.”
Unattractiveness Of The Agric Sector
He touched on the lack of necessities in rural areas where farming is done and the low remuneration that comes with farming as the reasons for the unattractiveness of the sector to the youth.
“We don’t have anything that makes the rural area attractive. We don’t have any programme which absorbs young people to go directly into agriculture. We don’t have any financial structure for agriculture.”
Planting For Food and Jobs
Dr Mensah indicated that the government’s flagship programme Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is only a political policy without any impact on the economy.
“How much has it reduced food importation?”, he quizzed.
“Has it been able to reduce the importation of rice? …We see that rice importation is rather rising. We import more tomatoes from Burkina Faso than pre-PFJ.”
Source: opemsuo.com/Hajara Fuseini