Appreciating our hard-working farmers

Soldiers, according to a popular adage, move on their stomachs. In other words, the average person needs food to be able to function as a human being. That is why feeding a nation is the prime concern of every government.

Thanks to a very reasonable amount of rainfall and the hard work of our peasant farmers, food has not been all that scarce since the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of President John Evans Atta-Mills moved to the Castle on January 7, 2009.

The Chronicle appreciates how our hard-working farmers, who still use implements our ancestors employed in tilling the land, continue to feed the nation. On Friday December 3, 2010, the chosen few gathered at Somanya to be officially recognised by the state.

The Head of State was there to pat the shoulders of our farmers for feeding the nation against all odds. We are grateful that they have ensured that there is something on the table for the average Ghanaian.

Even then, the costs of food items keep rising in spite of Dr. Grace Bediako’s theory of falling inflation, since the advent of the Atta-Mills regime. What this means is that we can do with more scientific methods of farming to ensure that post-harvest losses are kept at the minimum.

According to President John Evans Atta-Mills, as much as US$500 million was used to import rice in 2009. “This colossal amount went to support foreign farmers and their economies at the expense of our own job-creating opportunities,” lamented the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana.

The Chronicle shares in the pain of the Head of State. We cannot throw money at a problem that could be fixed with little changes to the way we are acquiring the taste for rice. We have quite a number of local foodstuff that could be promoted to fill the gap rice is occupying at the moment. It is not the very best that with all our local food components, in terms of foodstuff, we have come to rely on rice as our main dish.

We have to change that taste. We are of the view that any such change ought to start in our schools. Instead of rice, rice and more rice, we could serve yam, plantain and maize-based meals. We cannot afford to discard rice altogether, but we could reduce the quantum while we try to promote more locally-grown rice.

At the beginning of the Atta-Mills administration, we were made to understand that Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, had worked out a miracle that would enable this nation depend more on locally-produced rice varieties, and would thus reduce dependency on imported rice to the barest minimum.

The figures coming out now do not synchronise with this assertion, which puts all of us on notice, not to sing the halleluiah chorus when the job is still not done. Let us celebrate our farmers though. They break their backs to feed the nation.

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