The annual National Farmers Day has come to stay since it’s inception in 1988, to reward our hardworking and gallant farmers nationwide. It was introduced by former President Jerry John Rawlings. In his own wisdom, former President John Agyekum Kuffuor did not abandon the Awards Day.
The late former president Prof John Evans Atta Mills and former President John Dramani Mahama also showed their support to the National Farmer’s Day. The current President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo lauded the idea and moved it to a higher level.
I believe awards for excellence in any sphere of life must benefit generations unborn, like a legacy that can be traced in the future especially at the national, regional and district levels.
It is acceptable and appreciable by almost all Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians who reside in the country for what our farmers produce to feed the nation. Ghana used to have a natural arable land that produced all food and none food crops.
However, the challenge has to do with the excessive application of agro-chemicals which l equate to farming galamsay. The impact of these chemicals is so enormous that it would be better for government to ban their usage on farmlands.
Overdependence on Rain-fed Agriculture
Nature, l believe, is a solution to most of the challenges we face as humans on earth. The fresh air we breathe, the rains that fall on the land, mountains, valleys and the sea, the minerals we extract, the sea and the rivers and lakes we fish in and travel on, and the freshwaters we enjoy daily, are all solutions and answers to man’s needs and wants.
However, overdependence on nature can lead to life-threatening disaster. The Asians, especially farmers in China, just to cite one example, do not depend too much on nature for the rain to fall on their farms before sowing their crops; neither do they depend on the sea to provide enough fish regularly to feed their huge population. The Chinese government supports farmers by drilling bore holes on their farms, hence Chinese farmers have more than enough to eat and export the surplus to Africa and other parts of the world.
Asians understand that man shall not live by bread alone, so fish must accompany bread to feed multitudes of people. With this in mind, Asians breed fingerlings, and feed them to grow to unimaginable sizes which can feed their population and export the excess to countries that need fish.
Introduction of “National Irrigation Farmers Day”
In my understanding, irrigation is the watering of farmland to be used for agricultural purposes irrespective of the size of the land. For this reason I did my analysis as shown below.
By analyzing the awards given to our hard working farmers, l have a different opinion; there must be a paradigm shift from cash, cars, Motor Kings and other items given to our farmers.
Currently Ghana is divided into ten administrative regions and sub-divided into two hundred and sixteen Metropolitan, Municipals and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and the division is still counting. In other words more than 216 farmers were awarded for their dedication to duty and for their hard work in all the MMDAs across the country.
In my personal view, each of the District Best Farmers needs to be awarded with a bore-hole drilled for them in their respective farmlands; this will solve the challenge of inadequate rains in many parts of the country, and resolve the problem of over-reliance of rain-fed agriculture in Ghana.
This will mean, One District Best Farmer – One Bore-hole, One Poly Tank, and One Acre Land to start with. This will fall in line with government’s mantra of One, One, One or “the one-ism” in each District. This will be a legacy if the bore-holes will be well maintained.One borehole will last over 50 years when well maintained.
Also, One Best Fisherman – One Pound of Fish will be more rewarding than cash, nets or outboard motors. We cannot forget the poultry farmers: One Best Poultry Farmer – One Poultry Farm Reward. There must be a policy direction to this effect.
From Poverty to Riches
By using One Farmer – One Bore-hole, One Polytank, One Plastic Watering Can, One Acre Farm mantra, the farmer shall move from poverty to riches and then to wealth creation if the farmer will be sensitised on how to manage money.
In the first year of this farmer, the farmer can start manual irrigation with one Plastic Watering Can and to farm all year round. By the third year of its implementation, if the farmers are well coached, they will lay irrigation pipes on their three-acre farmlands.
By this, government will support two hundred and sixteen farmers in the first year; by year two, four hundred and thirty-two farmers; by year three, six hundred and forty-eight farmers; by year four, eight hundred and sixty-four irrigated farmlands will be made available – and hence the vision of agrarian economy will be near fulfillment.
This concept will provide raw materials to one-District-one-factory vision of the President.
MMDAs need to be encouraged to adopt and drive this concept of One District – One Irrigation in year one.
Year Number of boreholes for irrigated farm
In view of this, Citations and plaques can be given out during the ceremonies in the various MMDAs, before the irrigation facilities are provided in the farmlands. These can be supervised by the various Agriculture Extension Officers. This will help our poor farmers to grow faster in terms of food production.
The National Best Farmer carried a substantial money home, of which l appreciate. A percentage of this cash can be used to construct a model irrigation facility for him at his place of choice; the rippling effects of this can be more beneficial generational.
As the old adage goes, Rome was not build in a day. We can start from the first Friday of December 2018. In eight years into the inception of this concept, we can all imagine the irrigated farmlands we shall have as a nation.
One of the biggest challenges our farmers face is lack of financial managerial skills (FMS). If we really want to improve the social and financial conditions of our gallant farmers, to move from rag to riches, then financial education need to be a key feature to the annual awards that have come to stay.
Loan Facilities for the Youth and Farmers
I agree with the President, that Ghanaians are not poor. Whenever the banks are sure of financial recovery, they easily support requesters; this will go a long way for our farmers to produce more for local consumption and for export. Irrigation is the solution for banks to support the farmers.
In Ghana, and West Africa in general, banks are not willing to offer loan facilities to small holder farmers. Several reasons are assigned to this, one of which is the fact that there is absence of irrigation facilities for all year round farming to make cash available for servicing the loans.
With is idea, the smallholder farmers will easily get loans to expand their farms to create jobs for the youth nationwide. With this proposal, one smallholder farmer can employ about ten people. The effects on employment would be marvelous.
Year MMDAs No. Of Employment Job Creation
1 216 10 2,160
2 216 20 4,320
3 216 30 6,480
4 216 40 8,640
5 216 50 10,800
10 216 100 21,600
Fresh Agricultural Graduates
Government can also support graduates from the various universities and Agricultural Colleges. With this programme, the fresh graduates will practice what they learnt in school to good use. Provision of irrigation facilities will make farming possible all year round; this will attract more and more graduates into farming, creating jobs for the youth and reducing unemployment.
God bless our gallant and hardworking farmers.