A week of activities in Ghana’s agricultural sector culminated last Friday in the commemoration of the 34th edition of the National Farmers Day at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale.
The 2018edition of the annual event, which was attended by President Nana Akufo Addo saw 91 farmers and fishermen from across all ten regions of the country receive awards for exemplary performance.
The most prestigious award went to the National Best Farmer who received the cedi equivalent of a US$100,000 cash prize, sponsored by Agricultural Development Bank. Both the first and second runners up were also rewarded.
A 60-year-old farmer from the Nkoranza South District of the Brong Ahafo Region, James Obeng Boateng, was adjudged the 2018 National Best Farmer in Ghana.
Boateng was rewarded with a cheque for GH¢480,000 in addition to other prizes.
He has been farming for the past 18 years, producing cassava, cocoyam, cereals, okro, pepper, garden eggs, mango and cashew.
Boateng rears cattle, goats, sheep and manages two fish ponds as well as 100 boxes of beehives.
A farmer from the Central region, Charity Akotia, was adjudged the 1st Runner-Up while Alex Frimpong who farms in the Kwahu Afram Plains of the Eastern region took the 2nd Runner-Up position.
Awards were also conferred on the national best youth farmer; national best female farmer;and the national best physically challenged farmer.
National best farmers were conferred with awards in several categories including:livestock farmer; fisherman; inland fisherman; marine fisherman; aquaculture fisherman; cocoa farmer; shea nut farmer; crop farmer, agro-forestry farmer,agricultural extension agent; and fisheries extension farmer worker.
The top five farmers/fishermen from each region were also conferred with awards.
Last Friday’s farmers day ceremony culminated one-week long activities including a national agricultural fair and exhibition as well as regional focus days which provided a platform for each region to showcase its culture and agricultural endowments.
Corporate Ghana was closely involved in these activities through sponsorships of various awards. Apart from ADB, other major sponsors included `Mc Agro Company (a subsidiary of Mc Dans Shipping) which provided GHc100,000; Stanbic Bank which provided a pick up vehicle and Japan Motors which contributed a Yamaha outboard motor, five Yamaha generators and a Yamaha all-terrain vehicle.
This year’s edition of the event came at a time when the incumbent government is making strenuous efforts to increase agricultural output for both local consumption and for export. At the centre of the new initiatives being implemented are the ongoing ‘planting for food and jobs programme and a planned ‘Marshall Plan for Agriculture’, named after the huge public expenditure used for there construction of western Europe after the devastation caused by the second world war.
Construction has begun on 570 dams in the three northernmost regions, along with construction of 50 warehouses nationwide under the auspices of the Ghana National Buffer Stock Company, to enhance crop storage capacity. Government has also announced plans to commence construction of 10 fish landing sites along the country’s coast.
Agriculture accounts for about 18% of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product and encouragingly, the sector’s growth picked up to 8.4% in 2017, after averaging less than 4% annually over the previous decade.
However last week’s celebrations were dimmed somewhat by the untimely death in Tamale of a 46-year-oldnational awardee from Jasikan in the Volta Region after a short illness.
By Toma Imirhe