…as celebration is marked with rich cultural display
The Volta Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has honoured twenty-six farmers for their hard work and dedication to duty, to mark the just-ended National Farmers Day celebration at Srogbe in the Keta Municipality last Friday, where hundreds of people thronged to celebrate the achievements of farmers.
A middle-aged man from the North Tongu District of the region, Mr. Francis Koblah Atobrah, was adjudged the best farmer in the region, distinguishing himself in cattle farming. He received a refrigerator, a bicycle, TV set and a certificate among others, as his award.
The other twenty-five award winners, including five women, were also presented with bicycles, spraying machines, television sets, and certificates as a way of inspiring them to put in their best in the agriculture sector to help produce more food to feed the people, as well as export cash-crops like cocoa and mango to earn foreign exchange for the nation.
This year’s Farmers Day organisation, which was described by many who attended the ceremony as one of the best recorded in the history of the celebration, had a high number of women winning more awards, but the side attraction of the ceremony was the display of the rich culture of the people of Anlo, where tradition and culture was at its best to entertain the audience.
Addressing the large number of people at the ceremony, the Volta Regional Director of Food and Agriculture, Mr. John Tsrakasu, commended the award winners for their hard work, which had made it possible for them to be distinguished among the many farmers, and urged them to work harder than before, to even win national awards in future.
Mr. Tsrakasu said his outfit had lined up a number of programmes to support farmers in their activities, with the primary objective of ensuring food security in the country, and called on the people in the region, particularly, the youth, to take up agriculture as a business, to enable them generate more income to improve on their standard of living.
The Volta Regional Director of Food and Agriculture pointed out that the era where the youth had left agricultural practices in the hands of the aged was over, noting that the time had come for them to regard agriculture as a profitable venture, and embrace it to enable them achieve maximum benefit from the sector.
Mr. Tsrakasu mentioned block-farming as a strategy to attract the youth into the agriculture sector, because, as part of the strategy, farm inputs would be subsidised and payments made after the harvesting of crops without difficulty for the interested youth, stressing that there was the need for the youth to take advantage of the opportunities available, to create wealth for themselves.
He said, for example, that a bag of fertiliser which cost GH¢50 previously, now cost GH¢27, noting that the reduction in the farm inputs formed part of the government’s efforts to make agriculture more attractive to the majority of people who had shown interest to venture into agriculture as a business, to help produce enough food to feed the nation.
Mr. Tsrakasu therefore, appealed to the traditional authorities to support the government by making land available for the block-farming project, because availability of land was crucial in ensuring a successful agriculture practice in the region, and also commended farmers in the Keta Municipality for their hard work, and the judicious use of the little land available to them.
The Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Joseph Amenowode, noted that agriculture continued to be the major contributor to the national economy, as the agriculture sector contributed 34.5 percent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and provided employment to a substantial number of the people.
Mr. Amenowode said food security and good nutritional health formed part of the government’s agricultural policy, and that the appropriate agency, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, had accordingly extended its efforts to enhance food security, and the reduce income variability of farmers.
The Regional Minister continued that seven agricultural mechanisation services centers (AMSC) had been established with a total of 35 tractors and their implements, and mentioned that the centers were located in the North and South Tongu districts, Ho, Akatsi and the Hohoe Municipality, adding that it was important for farmers to form co-operatives, in order to benefit from these interventions.
The Keta Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr. Sylvester Tornyeavah, said the area, which is noted for the production of fish, poultry, cattle, ruminants, shallot, tomatoes, okro, pepper, mangoes and onions and other vegetables, were not done without difficulties to the farmers, who he described as hard working people.
Mr. Tornyeavah said some of the problems confronting farmers included poor road networks, which made it difficult for the farmers to transport their produce to the market centers, low market prices, inadequate Agriculture Extension officers to impart modern methods of agricultural practices, and occasional flooding of farms as some of the problems that affected agriculture activities in the Municipality.
The Chief of Srogbe, Togbui Ashige V, who chaired the function, said the high interest rate on loans from the banks for farming activities was affecting farmers in the area, and appealed to the government to help open up a branch of the Agriculture Development Bank in the Keta Municipality, to aid farmers financially in their work.
Torgbui Ashige also stated that farmers used underground water for the irrigation of their crops, but the frequent outage of electricity in the area, and the absence of electricity in some of the communities, impacted negatively on agricultural activities, since electricity was being used in the irrigation activities, and urged the government to come to the aid of farmers in the area.