Redeeming the lost value of farmers – the way forward

This explains why Ghana faces the challenge of making substantial progress in food security, because average yields have remained stagnant.

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Photo taken on Nov. 26, 2015 shows a truck loaded with sacks of agricultural produce along the muddy Sironko-Mbale road at Bugusege trading centre, eastern Uganda. As a country where over 80% of the population relies on agriculture, the Uganda government is prioritizing growth of infrastructure to economically viable areas to ease access to the markets. (Xinhua/Daniel Edyegu)
Photo taken on Nov. 26, 2015 shows a truck loaded with sacks of agricultural produce along the muddy Sironko-Mbale road at Bugusege trading centre, eastern Uganda. As a country where over 80% of the population relies on agriculture, the Uganda government is prioritizing growth of infrastructure to economically viable areas to ease access to the markets. (Xinhua/Daniel Edyegu)

It is estimated that about 2.74 million households operate a farm or keep livestock and about 90% of farm holdings are less than 2 hectares in size.

agriculture
agriculture

“Farmers’ Day” was instituted by the Government in 1985 in recognition of the vital role farmers play in the economy of the country

The day has since been celebrated year after year, on the first friday of December every year to motivate farmers to produce more. And the celebration still happens to be the center that feeds into the culture of mediocrity and poverty amongst farmers.

The celebration should therefore be made to mark a landmark moment that gives a reflection to the state of agriculture and the welfare of farmers.

In Ghana, agriculture is predominantly practiced on smallholder and family-operated farms using rudimentary technology to produce about 80% of the country’s total agriculture output.

The occasion again becomes nothing more than a flamboyant style of appreciating and encouraging the role of farmers in the country, where the ordinary man and the farmers themselves are under hunger threats.

Farmers’ day celebration has been made to be a political event where politicians rushes for selfish media attention instead of the pronouncement of strategic policy framework to boost the confidence of ordinary peasant farmers and restore the lost hope of those in solid grips of extreme poverty and hunger.

Considering the compelling theme for this year’s farmers day celebration, “Grow more food”, it is as if the ordinary farmer is thoroughly deprived of any memory where more foods are produced only to needlessly rot.

Speaking to some of these poor and helpless farmers in the Atebubu-Amantin District, one of the twenty-two districts of the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana, the challenges facing them are way complex.

They lamented on the high cost of inputs such as fertilizers, lack of access to modern agronomy, mechanized harvesting, processing and storage facilities.

The worst of it all according to these peasant farmers who are mainly into yam and maize cultivation, is the loss of their farmlands to large commercial farmers and estate developers.

Apart from these problems tabled by the farmers, thay are also left to compete with cheap imported produce at the market, and the prices paid to them for their produce is nothing to write home about.

In most cases, price policies have consequently punished farmers in order to benefit the urban clients of the ruling parties.

This indeed indicates that, there are no protective measures and policies put in place to help improve the livelihood of the smallholder farmer.

It is just unacceptable that farmers are classified amongst the core poor in the society. The government can introduce and upgrade efficient initiatives to upscale agriculture production.

There exist interest groups, but are not potent enough to improve the livelihood of farmers. When discussing the role of agriculture cooperatives in rural development, then we know we are talking about the role of development in agriculture as a whole.

Cooperatives provide the opportunity for the poor farmers to raise their incomes; they are democracies empowering people to own their own solutions; they increase security for the members and they contribute directly and indirectly to primary education for children, gender equality and reducing child mortality.

This means that the ordinary farmer must be able to access sufficient land and affordable credit and develop knowledge and techniques. The farmer needs to access adequate market information and networks to offload their produce.

In essence, subsistence farming does not provide scope for cooperative development and contributes little to food security and consequently poverty reduction.

‘Grow more food’ in its plain form, does not solve the problem because the National Best Farmer would be selected and that ends it all. What then would be the essence of this celebration year after year without lessons?

Ghana has no basis to sit back and relax, when agriculture still contributes enormously to GDP, employment generation and economic output.

Madam Victoria Adongo, the project organizer of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, once said in her address at the agricultural forum by SEND-Ghana and Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana to address issues pertaining to the 2016 budget allocation for the agric sector, and crucial issues related to agriculture at the college of physicians and surgeons that,

“the 2016 budget projection for the growth rate of agriculture which is 0.04%, is far from the Maputo Declaration in Malabo Equitoria Guinea, under the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP), calls for investment into agriculture by committing not less than 10% of national budgets into the sector”.

She said, expectations was that, by raising the allocation of government expenditure to agriculture by at least 10%, an agriculture growth target of 6% would at least be achieved.

Looking at the budget, government has slashed its 2016 expenditure on the agricultural sector by 40 million instead, despite growth in the agriculture sector stalling to 0.04% this year, when targeting 3.6% growth.

This year’s budgeted expenditure on the agricultural sector is Ȼ395.19 million, whilst 355.14 million has been budgeted for 2016, indicating a 10.1% decrease.

She therefore appealed to government and other stakeholders that, “Recommitting to the CAADP Principles of Investing in Agriculture, Ending Hunger and Poverty to achieve an Accelerated Agriculture Growth and Transformation”

Source : Sammy Adjei/Newsghana.com.ghmin

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