From Samuel Agbewode
A 63 year old retired Civil Servant, Mr. Eric Tetteh, has called on civil servants to invest in agriculture, especially cocoa farming, which would serve as the foundation for a better life when they finally retire from government work.
He further cautioned them against depending on government work until they retire.
Mr. Tetteh observed that many people retired from government work, only to start a new life full of hardship, due to lack of planning towards their retirement period.
They only depended on their salaries without investing in any lucrative business such as cocoa farming, to enable them to lead healthier and economically viable life.
The 63 year old man, who retired as a civil servant from the Ghana Cocoa Board, said it was time civil servants prepare adequately towards the future, stressing that he (Mr. Tetteh), as soon as he was employed in the government sector, he bought farmland, where he went into cocoa cultivation, and as at the time he went on retirement, he could boast of 10 acres, which generates income for him in addition to his salary.
Speaking to the media at Akpafu-Kokoame, where his 10 acres of cocoa farm is located, he said farming should be seen as a serious business, which was more lucrative than any other activity, with its additional health benefits.
He stated that saying cocoa farming seemed to be more economically viable than any other work, and encouraged those in the government sector to invest in agriculture to enable them to live a more comfortable life upon retirement.
Mr. Tetteh said, even though he initially started benefitting from the proceeds of his cocoa farm, he had recognised that it served a more important purpose for him after retirement, by helping him address economic and health needs.
He noted that without active involvement in agriculture, which served as major income generation after retirement, life would have been more difficult.
Mr. Tetteh who was a Chief Technical Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board, stressed that “there is money in the soil, but many people did not want to get money through farming,” and appealed to the youth to embrace agriculture.
He noted that the country was endowed with fertile land, but unfortunately, the willingness to use the land to help transform the socioeconomic wellbeing of the people was lacking, which had contributed to the increasing youth unemployment situation in the country.
He suggested that the only way to address the unemployment challenges was to make agriculture more attractive to the youth.
Mr. Tetteh continued that though the government was supporting agriculture, a lot more needed to be done to attract many people to the sector, with emphasis on the youth.
He stressed that farm imputes such as fertilisers being provided by the government to cocoa farmers ought to be commended, and appealed to the government to provide farmers, particularly cocoa farmers, with loan facilities, since the cultivation of cocoa was labour and capital intensive.
Mr. Tetteh mentioned motorised spraying machine on cocoa farm as being very expensive, and called for the government’s assistance.
He said, for example, the motorised spraying machine cost GH¢1,900, which was very difficult for many farmers to purchase, therefore, government’s support in that direction would be appreciated.
He added that a lot of the youth were interested in farming, but lack of money to embark on it was a major factor that discouraged many.
Mr. Tetteh said, as an experienced agriculture personnel, he and his colleagues on retirement were prepared to avail themselves to farmers to be educated on modern farming practices that would promote farming activities without any difficulty, and urged the youth to seek the relevant advice from agricultural experts to enable them go into commercial farming.
According to Mr. Tetteh, many farmers only practice subsistent farming, which did not have the capacity to address their financial problems, thereby making it more difficult for such farmers to recognise the economic viability of farming, and urged those interested in farming, particularly the youth, to go into commercial farming to enable them to derive its maximum benefits.
Mr. Tetteh noted that being a commercial farmer has many advantages apart from the financial benefits especially cocoa farmers, their children stand the opportunity of schooling on scholarship which also helped in relieving such parents of the payment of school fees as monies that would be used to pay school fees would be used to address other problems.
He however decried the situation where cocoa farmers smuggle cocoa to neighbouring countries such as the Republic of Togo, because the huge investment being made by government should be considered, and a stop put to the practice.
In a related development, another civil servant still in active serve, Mr. Stephen Kwesi Dogbe, a native of Santrokofi, has also invested in 8 acres of cocoa farm at Santrokofi, also in the Hohoe Municipality, and has called on the youth to take advantage of available opportunities in agriculture, particularly cocoa farming, to create wealth for themselves.
Mr. Dogbe explained to the media at Santrokofi that he decided to go into commercial farming, in addition to the government work, because the salary alone was not sufficient to address the needs of his family, and asked people in active government work to invest in agriculture to enable them live meaningful lives, even upon retirement.
He explained that as a civil servant, he only works on the cocoa farm during weekends, and employs four labourers to support him.
He said the added proceeds from the cocoa farm was making it possible for him and the family to live a meaningful life, and stressed the need for government workers to put their skills into more productive areas than regular office duties.
Mr. Dogbe mentioned the periodic labour that cocoa farmers employ to work on the farms, which, he noted, was expensive, as well as the black pod disease that farmers had to face and deal with to save the farms periodically, as major problems facing farmers, and called for government’s support finically to aid farming activities, particularly in cocoa cultivation.