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Opinions of Friday, 5 December 2014

Columnist: Naquentera, Joseph

My Thought on’’ Farmers Day Celebration’’

One of the most cherished holidays observed in the country for which I am concern is the celebration of our farmers who through un-surmounted odds fill up to the breams of our stomach with food without any recognition. This day popularly named Farmers Day falls on every first (1st) Friday of December is gradually zeroing towards it’s depletion of beauty and integrity. Some may question the reason for this jittery sentiment concerning the status quo of farmers day celebration and it is simple;Agriculture in this blessed country contributes 30.4% of our gross domestic product and employs about 60% of the larbour force. Farmers are the major driven indicators in the agricultural sector meaning without the farmers, Agriculture would not be in an existence hence anything concerning the welfare and the development of farmers should be the crux of national discourse.
Awarding farmers for their immense contribution towards national development is a brilliant call but not when those awarded have already established their fate in the agribusiness, riding the cars of their choice whiles living luxuriously. This is not to say, farmers who have these solid agricultural businesses as well as large farms and have attained certain class of our society should not be awarded. I completely agrees with the transition that goes on before these best farmers are awarded, with a committee constituting the various representatives from our public Universities (Agriculture faculties),the representatives of our research institutions such as the Council for Scientific Institute and Research (CSIR) and the Savanna Accelerated Research Institute(SARI) etc.
My plight is about the criteria for the selection of these best farmers. Here in Ghana most of our farmers are into small scale farming and only few farmers venture into large scale farming, so my question is, how can one compare, rate and juxtapose small scale farmers to large scale farmers all in the name of given an award. In comparison, large-scale farmers would be favorite than small-scale farmers ostensibly greater earnings accrued from the former than the latter, but this theory cannot hold in agricultural economies because the marginal contribution of the small hold farmers to food security is by far significant than commercial farmers.
In Kenya,for instance, for about two decades, they were having what is called the Presidential farmer competition Award Scheme normally exercise annually to award these unsung heroes, just like we do in Ghana however in the process of the execution, some shortfalls were recorded which precipitated the establishment of the National Farmers Competition Award Scheme 2013 to replace the former. This new award scheme although has not been too long in the system, but many farmers have expressed their delight in the scheme. The scheme breaks farmers award into five (5) categories namely Small-scale farms gearing to commercialization, Small-scale farms fully commercialized based on the level of investment and turnover per year, Large scale fully commercialized farm having a turnover of over ksh50million,Large scale agro input dealers with an investment of not less than ksh50million and Small scale agro dealers at an investment level of kgh2million. So you see, every farmer falls within at least one of the categories hence there is a high competition within them.
In Ghana,the committee set-up for the selection of best farmers are doing a splendor job,however it is a courtesy call on them to revise the criteria for the selection of these best farmers so that my grandfather who is in 3nsoyame y3 village with 24 different farms summing thirty(30)hectares farm size, can also feel the test of being a celebrated farmer. With tones of unflinching gratitude, I express it towards our unsung heroes(farmers) all over this country .