Business News of Sunday, 3 December 2017
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana is calling for a relook at the criteria for selecting award winners on National Farmers Day.
The Awards are handed out to farmers at the District, Regional and National levels on Farmers Day which falls on every first Friday in December.
Farmer’s day was set aside to recognize, celebrate and reward the hard work of farmers.
Whiles the day is set aside to celebrate farmers, Programs Officer for the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Bismarck Tetteh Owusu, says majority of farmers go largely unrecognized.
“It becomes a bit challenging and worrying when the criteria for selecting the best farmers and fishermen seems to favour a lot more of the commercial and large scale farmers who have a lot of advantages as compared to the small holder who has to suffer through thick and thin in order to put food on the table for us,” he said.
Bismarck Tetteh Owusu said the situation defeats the purpose of the awards.
“This is also against the backdrop that about 70 to 80 percent of the food we produce in the country is produced by the small holder farmer and not necessarily the large scale farmer,” he indicated.
Bismarck Tetteh Owusu said the situation is further worsened by the fact that the decentralization of the award to the district level still fails to recognize the smallholder farmer.
“Even at the very local level, at the district level where you feel that the population is small as compared to the national level, even the award for the district best farmer, when you look at even the acreages and hectares of land they cultivate you realize that it becomes difficult and virtually impossible for the smallholder farmer who needs to go through a lot in order to ensure that there is food,” he stated.
Mr. Tetteh Owusu further indicated that the situation is worsened by the fact that government policies directed at the Agric sector has not helped the smallholder farmer.
He noted that the criteria used for selecting the award winners automatically exclude the smallholder farmer.
“In our system where for example something like an extension agent is hard to come by and mind you those extension agents are the ones that are able to enlighten farmers but because they are scarce you will see that the small holder farmer in a village somewhere is not able to access them but the large scale farmer who is able to afford these private ones is able to be aware of all those things and then go by him and win an award,” he stated.
Bismarck Tetteh Owusu says government needs to implement policies that are targeted at smallholder farmers to bring them at par with their rich, commercial counterparts.
“A lot of these policies, programs and interventions should be directly aimed at smallholder farmers because once their livelihood is improved then they can scale up and then move to either medium or commercial that you need them to do but to still keep doing what you are doing and you still maintain the status quo, as in bringing up policies and programs that are easily identifiable and easily beneficial to just the large scale farmers then, it’s going to be difficult for us to be able to even ensure that smallholder farmers are able to upgrade themselves,” he said.
He also proposed that government takes a second look at the criteria for awarding the farmers.
“There should be a way that we can look at the criteria and say that probably for a district aside the recognition of a large scale or commercial farmer there should probably be one or two smallholder farmers who go through a lot to bring something to the table to be recognized,” he asserted.