OUR editorial today is dedicated to our farmers and fishers in recognition of the important role they are playing in the socioeconomic development of our country and highlight some of their challenges to influence policy for sustainable development.

Before tackling the farmers and their issues, we commend the initiative to set aside the first Friday of every December to award deserving farmers and fishers for their untiring efforts at ensuring that we have enough food on our tables, all year round.

As they line up tomorrow in the Northern Regional capital, Tamale, to be honoured as well as in all districts of Ghana, we doff our hat off to them, for the significant role they continue to play in guaranteeing food self-sufficiency in Ghana.

We commend corporate bodies and individuals for the numerous and generous donations to support the government to reward farmers and fishers on the auspicious National Farmers’ Day.

It is significant to note that Ghana has reduced poverty rate by half from 56.5 per cent to 24 per cent between 1992-2013, resulting in the country receiving thumbs up from the international community for being the first country to reduce extreme hunger and poverty under the erstwhile Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This has been made possible through the interventions in the agriculture sector. The farmers and the fishers would always stand tall in this monumental achievement in reducing poverty in the country.

Of significance also is that the agriculture sector progress report 2017 shows that Ghana is self-sufficient in all major staple crops except rice and millet that had a shortfall due to the high national demand in relations to supply.

Staple roots including cassava, yam and cocoyam recorded sustained increase in production levels resulting in surpluses. Also, the net food surplus for cereal, especially maize increased significantly by 227 per cent over 2016 estimates.

Furthermore, the agriculture sector performance saw soyabean, cowpea and groundnut recording surpluses. This is good news, thanks to the farmers and fishers, not forgetting the officials’ of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture who oversee agriculture production in the country.

In recognising the important role farmers and fishers are playing in socioeconomic development, it is important to look at the challenges Ghanaian farmers and fishers go through in putting food on our tables.

Although they contribute to poverty reduction and food self-sufficiency, they are nonetheless victims of poverty. There is no gainsaying the fact that agriculture production is a lucrative business and that many have benefited from farming and fishing. But the bare truth is that most smallholder farmers are reeling under poverty.

Majority of smallholder farmers and fishers experience dwindling income as a result of post-harvest losses occasioned by poor storage facilities for their produce, poor roads to cater for their produce from the farm gates to market centres, vagaries of weather to mention but a few.

Successive governments have through various initiatives supported farmers and fishers, but the above challenges still exist that must be resolved if farmers are to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

The least that can be done as starters is a guaranteed fair pricing for their produce, increase access to financial resources to expand and improve their farms, irrigation facilities for all year farming, insurance cover to mitigate risk.

Indeed, our farmers and fishers deserve the honour and we need to sustain their efforts in ensuring food security and food self-sufficiency in the country.

On the auspicious occasion of the National Farmers Day tomorrow, we say Ayeeko to all our farmers and fishers!!


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