This year’s Farmers’ Day with the theme, “Agribusiness Development under COVID-19 – Opportunity and Challenges” was held on friday the 6th of November.
The official National Farmers’ Day is a statutory public holiday held on the first Friday of December. Farmer’s day 2020 was observed on the first Friday of November because of the election year.
Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in a statement to the House, explained by saying “This decision was taken because the general elections in our considered view, takes precedence over every other event on our national calendar.”
Despite the day taking place yesterday, November 6, it was not observed as a holiday. December 4, however, will be observed as such.
Farmers’ Day 2020 – Impact of COVID-19 on Farmers
This year’s celebration remains for the most part a unique celebration given the tremendous impact of the coronavirus pandemic on farming activities. Most farmers have had to go through a period of tough changes during this period. However, resilience, hopefulness, and determination have been the hallmark that crowns their efforts.
Alex Kravecas, owner of Ghanaian fruit export firm MakolaHub Fresh in an interview made it known that his business lost new business leads made in February during an international trade fair in Germany.
“The coronavirus has stopped all of our shipments,” Alex Kravecas said.
Farmers of one of Ghana’s major export cash crops, cashew that generates between US$378 million and US$981 million annually have also lamented the impact that the coronavirus has had on their returns. The business of cashew witnessed price falls from US$130 for a 100kg bag of raw cashew nuts to just US$75.
Clement Anane a cashew farmer and secretary of the Ghana National Cashew Farmers Association
“The cashew sector had its own challenges, but the coronavirus epidemic has exacerbated matters.”
Earlier in the year, CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahene Aidoo in an interview monitored by Ghana Talks Business said the plunge in cocoa prices due to the pandemic brings the country to a deficit of $1 billion.
“The buyers have closed their windows so we are not buying. The price of Cocoa has tumbled. Immediately it brings to Ghana a deficit of almost $1 billion” he said.
Some 800,000 rural families are employed by Ghana’s Cocoa sector and with the buyers closing their window, the livelihood of cocoa farmers was at stake.
Farmers’ DAY 2020 – President Akuffo Addo’s message
President Akuffo in his message to farmers on the 36th National Farmers’ Day celebration recognized the significance of this year’s Farmer’s day given the global outbreak and the resilience of the agriculture sector.
“This year’s Farmer’s Day celebration has taken on even more significance in view of the ravages caused by the novel COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted all aspects of national life,” he said.
“As a result of the resilient nature of Ghanaian agriculture, buoyed on by the fact that the sector has received strong support from the government over the last three years and ten months, we, in Ghana, faced no shortages in the food supply since the outbreak of the virus on our shores in March. Our country has since been able to stand on its own two feet, in spite of the obviously difficult times. I express the appreciation of a grateful nation to farmers and fisherfolks across the country for achieving this historic feat,” he further stated.
Farmers’ Day 2020 – The award winners
Solomon Kwadwo Kusi, a 55-year-old farmer from the Jomoro District of the Western Region was adjudged the 2020 National Best Farmer with a cash prize of GH₵570,000.00.
Nana Kofi Drobo IV, a farmer at Wenchi followed in second and received a tractor and some farm inputs. Mahamudu
Mohammed Awal, a farmer from the Northern Region came in third place and received a Nissan pickup vehicle in addition to some farm inputs.
135 other deserving farmers from the 16 regions were also honoured and received various prizes that ranged from farm tractors, wheelbarrows, motor king, wellington boots, agricultural inputs, and agro-chemicals.
Criteria for selecting the best farmer
According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Extension Agents monitor and assess farmers’ activities over the farming season. Preliminary selections are then made at the district and regional levels using the following criteria:
• Diversified and integrated farming operations: For example, raising livestock and crops and using the crop residue to feed the livestock and the livestock waste to nourish the crops.
• The scale of operation: Various scales of operation, small, medium, and large are considered. Size and number of various enterprises identified are the acreages of crops, the number of livestock and poultry, the surface area of fishpond(s), number of beehives, and the yield realized from these are used to classify scale of operation.
• Knowledge of husbandry practice: The farmer should be conversant with cultural practices such as fertilizer application, weed, pest, and disease control as well as scientific animal production techniques.
• Environmental awareness and relevance practices: An award-winning farmer should be aware of the problems of the environment and the measures needed to be taken to alleviate their harmful effects. He/she should be aware of factors such as control of bush burning, soil erosion control, and other soil and water management practices.
• Identification of farming problems and innovation: A farmer should be able to identify and evolve or institute measures to combat periodic or perennial problems connected with his/her farm project.
• Records keeping: An aspirant award-winning farmer should have adequate knowledge of farm record-keeping that will assist him/her to evaluate the success or failure of the enterprise.
• Adoption of new technology: The farmer should prove that he or she is abreast of innovations with regard to improved practices, inputs, and techniques which will increase his/her agricultural productivity.
• Farmer’s role in his or her community: To be considered as an award winner, the farmer must contribute towards the growth of the community in which he or she lives. He or she should extend to, or share knowledge with other farmers in the community.
• The general impression of farmer and farm: The general outlook of the farmer and his farm is very important. The farmer should be able to identify general or specific problems connected with the farm and be aware of the institutions to consult for help.