Mr Daniel Noble Awume, Hohoe Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), says the agricultural sector continues to be the backbone of the nation’s economy and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remains significant.
He said the contribution of the sector to the country’s development could not be discounted.
Mr Awume speaking during the 38th District edition of the National Farmers Day at Fodome Helu, said improving agricultural productivity would impact significantly on the socio-economic fortunes of the country.
The celebration was on the theme: “Accelerating agricultural development through value addition.”
Mr Awume encouraged the youth not to shy away from farming since agriculture had the potential to improve their lives as individuals and to better lots as a Municipality.
He said the theme could not be more appropriate and was a wakeup call on the country to appreciate the need to value agriculture as a business that could transform the economy by providing opportunities for the youth.
“We cannot continue to export our raw produce, import majority of the finished products that we consume and expect the kind of economic transformation we so desire as a nation.”
Mr Awume believed that the idea of value addition would help generate more revenue, foster job creation, conserve foreign exchange earnings, and promote effective post-harvest management.
Mr Awume commended the staff of the Department of Agriculture, particularly the Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs) for their invaluable services to the development of the sector.
He said the Assembly through the Agric Department will provide support to Farmer-Based Organisation (FBOs) which were into the production of exportable agricultural commodities, train farmer-groups on post-harvest management, support the implementation of the Rearing for Food and Job programme.
He noted that the dry season was here and reminded all about the devastating effects of bush fires on the local economy adding that communities must assist the NADMO to engage members against bushfires.
Madam Sandra Ofori, Hohoe Municipal Director of Agriculture, said the year had been very favourable in terms of good distribution of rains and hence the expectation of availability of food but the cost of agro inputs had tripled and that could bring the gains down, making food prices to soar.
“The value addition of agro-products has long been under emphasized and it has been a bane for Agricultural development through huge post-harvest losses.”
Madam Ofori said the Department would prioritise activities on value addition to make farm produce more acceptable to consumers.
She said they had already began with training of FBOs in various value addition programmes adding that the Planning for Export and Rural Development programme of which some 2,000 coconut seedlings and 12,000 oil palm seedlings planned, yet, to be nursed and given to farmers would go a long way to help the value addition agenda.
“Providing simple extraction machines to help in processing the coconut and the palm nut will help to enhance the Local Economic Develop and also provide employment for the youth.”
She appealed to chiefs and opinion leaders to help the Department establish a farmers’ market to help farmers get premium prices for their produce.
Togbe Agbefle, Asafofiaga of the Fodome Traditional Area, said there was the need for new methods of farming to be introduced and given to farmers to increase productivity and more yields.
He said farmers must encourage themselves and form groups to lobby for incentives that would help them, adding that farmers should also visit each other’s farms and share ideas.
Togbe Agbefle called on the Assembly and the Member of Parliament to work on the Fodome-Hohoe road to facilitate easy movement of goods and services.
Mr Ernest Agbesi was adjudged overall Best Municipal Farmer and received a motorbike, knapsack sprayer, two cutlasses, wellington boots and certificate.
He said food sustainability and rapid economic development could only be attained if the young ones ventured seriously into agriculture instead of roaming the streets of cities looking for non-existent white colour jobs.
Other winners are Mr Evans Nameka, the 1st Runner Up, Municipal Best Farmer, got a deep freezer, Mr Pius Agbemenu, Best Municipal Best Processor, received table top fridge and a certificate, Mr Godwin Kwawu, Municipal Best Agricultural Worker, received television set and certificate.
Madam Happy Klu, Municipal Best Rice Farmer, got brush cutter and certificate, Madam Theresah Latsebi, Municipal Best Vegetable Farmer, received a deep freezer and certificate, Mr Ernest Vigbedor, Municipal Best Youth in Agriculture, received digital television set and certificate.
Mr George Agbemavor won Municipal Best Cocoa Farmer, and Afadjato Farmers Association was adjudged Municipal Best Farmer-Based Organisation while four consolation awards were also presented.
All award winners also received agrochemicals.