Aggrieved farmers threaten Farmers Day boycott … but MOFA apologises for the communication gap

Some farmers have threatened to boycott this year’s Farmers’ Day celebration over what they said was disrespect exhibited towards them by officials of the Food and Agriculture Ministry.

At a stakeholders’ forum in Accra yesterday on the overview of the 2018 National Farmers’ Day celebrations slated for December 7 in Tamale, the minister, his three deputies and the Minister in Charge of Agriculture, at the Office of the President all failed to attend the meeting.

Representing the various farmer groups drawn from across the country, the farmers openly expressed their sentiments during the course of the meeting at the inability of the minister,  his deputies, and other officials from the ministry to honour the forum the ministry had organised.

According to the farmers, for the minister to allow the National Coordinator of the celebrations alone to meet them and not delegate any of his deputies or the chief director at the ministry to meet them amounted to disrespect.

Some of the farmer associations present were the Peasant Farmers Association, National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners, the Association of Farmers and Fishermen and the Concerned Farmers Association among other individual farmers.

The exhibitors included Yara Ghana, Hatoum Trading Company, Mel Consulting Limited, Dizengoff Ghana Limited, Tata John Deere, Park Agrotech Ghana Limited among others.

President of the Concerned Farmers Association (CFA), Nana Oboadie Opambour Boateng Bonsu II, who is leading the boycott, told the Ghanaian Times the Minister,of Agriculture did not treat them well.

“We are very peeved because most of us here are coming from very far away. Me for instance, I am coming from the Western Region yet ministers who are just a stone throw away could not be here.

“How many ministers do we have at the Agriculture Ministry? They are taking farmers for granted so we are also going to mobilise and boycott the Farmers’ Day celebration. The President must fire him,” a furious Nana Oboadie Opambour Boateng Bonsu II said.

According to him, the farmers would only rescind their resolve to boycott the event on the theme “Agriculture: Moving Ghana Beyond Aid” only if the ministers appologise to them.

Another farmer, Joseph Addo, who claimed to be coming from the Ashanti Region, could not hide his frustration as he joined the call to demand an apology from officials of the ministry.

“I took a car from Mankranso to be here only to meet the absence of the minister in his own office and you don’t think there is something wrong with this? This is total disrespect and it must not be swept under the carpet” he fumed.

But the Public Relations Officer of the ministry, Tanko Bagbara apologised to the aggrieved farmers and explained to the Ghanaian Times in an interview why the officials at the ministry failed to be part of the meeting.

“The meeting was supposed to be between potential exhibitors, farmers and the Exhibition Sub Committee of the Planning Committee to have a discussion as to how to guide exhibition at the event.

“The Minister of State in Charge of Agriculture signed the letter inviting them but he was not under the impression that he was to be there because the Exhibition Sub Committee was tasked to handle that after which they would meet the Planning Committee and present their report.

“The minister has been in his office the whole day and would have attended the meeting if he knew he was to be there. We apologise for this gap and would want to assure our cherished farmers that it was not deliberate,” Tanko said.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI & ALLIA NOSHIE

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