The Upper West Regional celebration of the National Farmers Day was held at Jonga in the Wa Municipal, with 32 distinguished farmers awarded for their contributions to food production, food processing as well as value addition to commodities.
The Day coincided with the Wa Municipal celebration in which 19 eminent farmers were also honoured for their numerous contributions towards food production.
In the regional category, Mr. Kasim Badakia, a 34-year farmer from Nabulo in the Sissala East District, was adjudged the Over-all Regional Best Farmer.
He took home a Tricycle Motor, Corn Sheller, and Water Pumping Machine, pair of wellington boots, cutlass and a full piece of cloth, as his prize.
Mr. Saani Issahaku, a 36-year-old farmer from Cheringu was also regarded the overall Best Farmer in the Wa Municipal category, and was honoured with a certificate, a tricycle motor, two pair of wellington boots, four cutlasses and two bar key soaps as his prize.
Madam Mary Abubakari from Nakore won the best woman farmer, and Hajia Alima Ahmed from Tagirayiri, emerged the best sheanut picker in the municipal category.
Addressing the gallant farmers, Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, Upper West Regional Minister, urged them to turn their attention to some of the non-traditional export crops, such as mango, cashew, and shea, as well as industrial crops, including cotton and moringa.
He said those crops had a comparative advantage in the region, and if produced on a large scale, could increase incomes for improved livelihood.
Alhaji Sulemana advised the farmers to carry out their farming activities in a sustainable manner, especially regarding land management and the maintenance of the ecosystem, to help enhance food production and food security.
“Land degradation has, and continues to be a major threat to the estimated 150,000 square kilometers of agricultural land in the region, which is about 63 of the total land of Ghana,” he said.
The Regional Minister said traditional practices, such as bush burning and the improper use of technologies, such as irrigation and agro-chemicals, had not engendered sustainability of resource use.
The impact of climate change must be understood and integrated into the sector’s activities, he said.
Mr. Joseph Y. Faalong, Upper West Regional Director of Food and Agriculture, announced that the Ministry had in stock a number of farm machinery of varied systems, which could be used for ploughing, mowing, power generation and water pumping machines, for sale at subsidized prices.
He reminded beneficiaries of the subsidized tractors to fulfill their obligations in the recovery cost of the tractors that they received since 2003, so as to enable others to also benefit.
On challenges facing the Ministry in the region, he said the region was divided into 250 operational areas and ideally each operational area was supposed to be manned by an extension officer, but the 68 extension staff available had reduced the extension-farmer ratio.
Poor road network is very prevalent in the region, especially to the high food production areas, thereby hampering the marketing of agricultural produce.
Mr. Faalong said high cost of agricultural inputs had affected production, as many farmers were unable to procure the right quantities of inputs for their farms, especially due to the lack of subsidies on fertilizers.