THE comments by Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, over the organisation of the National Farmers’ Day really require consideration.

Speaking last Friday, at the launch of this year’s celebration, Ms Ayittey voiced the concerns of the country’s fisherfolk about the awards scheme, which, from indications, is skewed towards crop farmers.

She suggested to the Awards Planning Committee to consider an alternative award package for fishermen, rather than giving them Wellington boots, hoes and cutlasses.

The Times wholly supports this call because, as the minister queried, what does a fisherman who plies his trade at sea, need a hoe, a cutlass or Wellington boots for?

It beats the imagination how the organisers could believe that the fishermen would appreciate such items as reward for their toils in helping to feed the nation, instead of fishing nets, outboard motors etc.

We recognise that agriculture remains the foundation and the superstructure of the economy, and should be accorded all the recognition and support it deserves, but that recognition should be extended to the various sectors.

The Times believes the awards scheme needs an overhaul in its entirety, to benefit all.

The current system tends to benefit the rich the more, making them richer while the poor peasant farmers remain in their shadows.

For, there is no gainsaying that fact that it is only the rich businessmen in farming who have the wherewithal to undertake large scale farming, and, therefore, win the major awards such as the Regional and National Best Farmers.

With the prevailing economic situation of high lending rates, etc, it is indeed impossible for the small scale farmers, especially the peasant ones, to secure financial assistance to expand their farms.

Thus, so long as the yardstick for selecting the best farmers remains the acreage and production level, these people who play critical roles in the national economy will always be at the losing end, with very little opportunity of attaining national recognition.

As of now, it is the case of the rich getting richer, because it is the rich businessman in agriculture who would always win the priced awards of houses, tractors and vehicles which they can afford anyway, and, therefore, do not need. The poor would continue to take the crumbs.

We suggest that innovations should be introduced to give hope to the peasant farmers and encourage them to produce more to feed the nation.

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