President Kufuor urges youth to return to the land
President John Agyekum Kufuor has asked Ghanaian youths to return to the land rather than seek non existent 'white-collar jobs.
He told National Best Farmers' Day celebrations at Nkawie in Atwima Nwabiagya in the Ashanti Region that his government has done a lot and will continue to do more to make agriculture more attractive.
50-year-old farmer from the Greater Accra Region, Mohammed Tetteh Akpan was crowned the National Best Farmer for 2006.
The new National Best Farmer who was decorated by President Kufuor has about 850 acres of farmlands in many parts of the country including Afienya, Mampong and Shai Hills. He was presented with a three-bedroom house as his prize.
About 71 farmers at the national level received prizes for their work in food crops, cash crops, animal husbandry, poultry, fisheries and other sectors.
President Kufuor said agriculture holds much promise for the youth, especially with the availability of improved varieties durbar of high yielding crops, which he said enables the farmer enormous harvests on a limited piece of land.
He told them engaging in agriculture, especially when farmlands abound in the country should be more appealing to the youth than 'running to Accra and be screaming daily of poverty'.
He also reminded Ghanaians of the high prevalence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country and advised that protected sex should be a prime concern to all if the nation was to make any significant headway in the fight to get its spread.
The Democratic Peoples Party has also congratulated farmers and fishermen on their contribution to the development of the country.
In a statement to mark this year's Farmers' Day celebration, the party also commended the government and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for their collaborative efforts in promoting the celebration.
The statement also made a special mention of the country's businessmen, especially those in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, who had continuously made both financial and material contributions to the Ministry of Agriculture for the celebration of the day.
The Party prayed for good weather to assist the work of farmers and fishermen in their effort to feed the nation.
The National Union of Ghana Students – NUGS has also in a message to mark the day, called on government to protect the local farming industry against foreign invasion.
Meanwhile some nominees for this year's National Best Farmers' Day awards have called for measures to stem the perennial problem of post-harvest losses.
The farmers said they were not happy that in spite of the high cost of farm inputs most of them, especially those in the hinterlands, find it difficult to market their produce as most of the crops perish not long after harvest.
They said since this development was a disincentive to boosting the agriculture sector, the government should foster closer collaboration with corporate bodies and stakeholders to evolve measures aimed at addressing the problem.
The award winners expressed their concern at separate interviews with the Ghana News Agency at a reception held in their honour by the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) in Kumasi.
The reception formed part of activities marking this National Farmers' Day celebrations that is slated for Nkawie in the Atwima-Nwabiagya District.
Mr Kyeremeh Amankwaah, a tomato farmer from Tano South District of Brong-Ahafo, said this year 100 boxes of tomatoes he produced perished as a result of the non-availability of ready market.
He said considering the high perishable rate of tomato and other vegetable crops, there was the need to build enough storage facilities to save farmers from hardships.
Mr Kwaku Ayuba, a pineapple farmer from the Mfantsiman District in the Central Region, said it was high time measures were stepped up to establish fruit processing factories to process perishable products.
Mr Simon Abdullai, a seed producer from Krachi West District of the Volta Region, commended the government for adopting initiatives to develop the agriculture sector.
He called for the improvement of feeder roads to make it easy for farm produce to be carted to the market for sale after harvest.
Alhaji Ibrahim Zakaria, an irrigation farmer of Tolon-Kunbungu District in the Northern Region, appealed to the government to build more irrigation dams in the country, especially in the three Northern Regions, which normally experience drought all year round.
Such efforts, he said, would also help to address the high rate of rural-urban migration as well as unemployment among the youth.
Mrs Margaret Blay-Kainya, a coconut farmer from the Jomoro District of the Western Region, decried the high interest rates charged by most banks in the country, saying it deprived most farmers, especially women, the needed funds to expand their plantations.
Mr Emmanuel Asamoah Owusu-Ansah, Ashanti Regional Minister, commended the farmers for their dedicated service and commitment to duty that had facilitated the country's socio-economic development.
Some 70 farmers across the country are expected to win awards in various categories of agriculture for their immense contribution in ensuring the growth of the sector at the National Farmers' Day celebrations.