As I lay in bed this morning pondering about the significance of today as National Farmers Day, my mind went back to the mid 2000s.
As a technology transfer trainer who trekked to some of the remotest parts of our country at the time, I was a regular witness to heaps of tomatoes, plantain and other food stuffs that had been left to rot at the farm gates due to various reasons. These ranged from lack of transportation, bad pricing for the food items, farms being inaccessible to means of transport, unmotorable roads among others.
This situation variously led to situations where a crate of tomatoes for example could be sold at GHC10.00 then when same was sold in Accra was sold at GHC200.00. This led to a situation where middlemen and end sellers reaped from the toil and sweat of the hardworking farmers who continue to break their backs in the heat of the sun and other vagaries of the weather to grow food for the nation. It is for such farmers that the National Farmers Day has been instituted. But the interesting twist is that these people, on a day like this, may well have found themselves back on the farms working just so that they can keep body and soul together. Yet, here you and I are, enjoying rest at home in the name of these same farmers.
Have we ever wondered why these farmers continuously grow and harvest food stuffs but are almost never able to even break even let alone make profits to improve on their circumstances.
The United States has less than 2% of its population in its agricultural sector and yet they are able to feed the entire population and export to the world. According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, over here in Ghana, we have a whopping 90.5% of our population engaged in agriculture as their main occupation. The tragedy however is that with this mass of people in agriculture, we are still unable to feed our nation let alone be able to export anything meaningful.
As we mark this day, it’s my prayer that our policy makers would really look at ways by which our farmers would really benefit from the policies they roll out. These include enhancing agricultural extension services to the farmers, adding value through food processing of the produce, improving access to the farm gates, increased improvement in the use of technology, unimpeded access to funding for Agric purposes among others.
Certainly, a Farmers Day that only pays lip service to the importance of farming and those involved in it is surely not the panacea in ensuring that we’d grow what we eat, eat what we grow and can what we cannot eat.
Meanwhile I’d wish all our hardworking farmers and fisherfolk a Happy Farmers Day! May you continue to experience an enhancement in the dignity of your professionals you seek to feed our beloved nation!
My dear friend,