Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of the Interior, has stressed the need for actors in the agricultural value chain to stop siphoning raw food products to other countries, which is detrimental to attaining food security in the country.
Mr Dery observed that the President had placed a premium on value addition to some food produced in the country such as rice and cooking oil saying, “I want you farmers, to take up the challenge and to do your best to increase production and the government will help you to add value.”
Mr Dery, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Nandom Constituency, said this at the weekend in Nandom during the commemoration of the Upper West Regional Farmers’ Day.
The government instituted Farmers’ Day to, among other things, celebrate and honour the gallant actors in the agricultural sector for ensuring security in the country.
The 38th edition of the annual celebration was on the theme: “Accelerating Agricultural Development through Value Addition.”
The Upper West Region adopted the theme: “Promoting Market Linkage through Value Addition” to rehash the importance of value addition to agricultural commodities.
While commending the personnel of the security services for baring the export of raw food products, the minister said it was not patriotic for people to siphon food produced in the country to other countries.
He said the government had subsidised the cost of food production through the implementation of various programmes and projects such as the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) but that there was still the need for more to be done to further increase food production.
The Interior Minister appealed to the general public to support the security agencies in maintaining peace in the country by reporting suspicious characters to the security agencies for the necessary actions to be taken.
Dr Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper West Regional Minister, expressed gratitude for the partnership with organisations and agencies for their meritorious support in any form to farmers to enhance production as well as to reduce post-harvest losses.
He indicated that value addition to agricultural commodities was very important as it led to job creation, additional revenue generation, foreign earnings, and effective post-harvest management.
“Farmers’ incomes can be significantly increased by effectively adding value to primary agricultural products and marketing them,” he said.
Dr Salih also stressed the need for a halt to illegal mining activities in the region and the country at large, which was rendering the agricultural lands unproductive.
In all, 16 actors in the agricultural sector in the region, including six Farmer-based Organisations and the Nandom Agricultural Directorate were recognized for their diverse contributions to the agricultural sector.
Mr John Dimah Gbene Iddrisu, from Kusali in the Sissala West District, emerged the overall best farmer in the Upper West Region and was given a tricycle, mist-blower, five bags of NPK Activa (25kg).
The 40-year-old Charted Marketer said he cultivated about 700 acres of maize among other crops, through the use of the out-grower module, and livestock.
He said he had also employed private Agricultural Extension Agents to support the farmers in their activities.
While expressing gratitude to the stakeholders and the government for recognizing his efforts, he said: “People should not see farming as the last resort. They should see it as a real business.”