The Deputy General Secretary of the Agricultural Workers Union, Edward Kariwe, says the annual ritual of the Farmers Day celebration is unnecessary and must be abolished.
According to him, farmers are self-motivated and do not need a holiday to bolster efforts at attaining food sufficiency in the country.
Mr. Kariwe made these remarks in an interview with Joy News' Evans Mensah on the eve of the 2008 Farmers Day Celebration which has been brought forward to Friday 7th November 2008 due to the December polls.
It was originally scheduled for December 5.
Describing the farmers' holiday celebration as a charade, Mr. Kariwe said there are many challenges that confront farmers which have been glossed over by government.
“The Farmers' Day only gathers farmers, makes a public show, just to acknowledge a few of them,” he remarked.
“If there is the need to help farmers, it is not necessarily the Farmers' Day which is celebrated once in a year to acknowledge their difficulties.”
Mr. Kariwe also expressed his reservations over the statutory holiday attached to the Farmers' Day celebration.
“You can't use a statute to give farmers a holiday. Farmers know when to rest. The holiday is only enjoyed by non-farmers,” he charged.
Mr. Kariwe advocated governments' intervention by way of subsidies to improve the lot of farmers, adding, “policies must address supply and post harvest loses of farmers.”
He also called for credit facilities to be made available to farmers as well as a collaboration between the agricultural and other sectors of the economy such as industry.
This, he said, would provide inputs and ready markets for farmers.
But the sector Minister, Ernest Debrah, maintained lots of interventions have been put in place by government to address some of the problems farmers go through.
According to him, substantial lands have been irrigated under a new irrigation policy introduced by government.
He also mentioned a comprehensive food and agriculture development policy which will soon be inaugurated with the aim of modernising the agric sector.
He called for a larger stakeholders' meeting to discuss some of the challenges faced by farmers and to forge a common agenda to improve the sector.
He however dismissed assertions that the Farmers' Day is unnecessary.
“How can Farmers' Day be described as cosmetic if you award people to motivate them for the kind of work they have done?”
He said the necessity of the Farmers' Day can only be attested by the beneficiaries of the awards and those who aspire to win.
Meanwhile, the best farmer for 2007 will be awarded a fully furnished three bedroom house, with a Toyota Pick Up and a Tractor going to the first and second runners up respectively.
Story by Nathan Gadugah