Dr Simon Saku, 54, Managing Director of Emil Farms at Wenchi in the Brong-Ahafo Region, was yesterday adjudged the 2008 National Best Farmer. He received a three-bed room house valued at GH¢ 40,000 to be built at a place of his choice as his prize.
For the first time in the history of the National Farmer's Awards, he is also to be presented with a double cabin pickup. Dr Saku, who operates a private hospital at Wenchi, has put about 270 hectares of his 385 hectares under cultivation and employed 45 fulltime workers and 80 casual labourers.
He is into cocoa, citrus, teak, vegetable, tubers, cereals and mango cultivation and fish ponds among other farming activities at Wenchi, Amponsakrom, Bedibenom, Abotareye, Subinso and Aduana, all in Brong Ahafo Region.
The second National Best farmer award went to Madam Janet Nyabase of Azugyire in the Builsa District of Upper East Region. She drove home a double cabin pickup while 57-year old Maurice Dery, a retired Civil Servant from the Upper West Region, the second runner up. He also received a double cabin pickup.
In all, 67 farmers including 10 Agricultural Extension Officers were honoured at the ceremony attended by President John Agyekum Kufuor.
The ultimate prize in fish farming, a double cabin pickup, was won by Mr Kojo Sotor, President of Power Evangelical Network at Elmina in the Central Region. Torbui Avu Francis from Avukope in the Volta Region and Tsani Gadoge, from Ada in Greater Accra Region, were the first and second runners up and carried away deep freezers, television sets, nets and ropes as their prizes.
Mr Clement Kwasi Kumah, from C.K. Krom in the Juaboso District of the Western Region won the best National Cocoa Farmer prize and also took home a double cabin pickup. Dr Anku thanked the Government for the tremendous support and interventions it has been giving to Ghanaian farmers to change the face of the country's agriculture.
Asked later by newsmen about how he felt after receiving the award, Dr Saku responded: 'I feel good.' He said the national recognition is going to inspire him to expand his farming activities.
He explained that his interest in farming began seven years ago after a near fatal road accident he was involved in on the Wenchi-Techiman highway. Dr Anku said some farmers working on a teak plantation saved him and ever since, he developed love for teak farming and later expanded into other areas.
Addressing the farmers earlier, President Kufuor called on the entire farming sector to focus on the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Projects, the implementation which has begun in all the 30 selected districts.
The concept, he said is to modernise agriculture by moving it from subsistence to commercial occupation in an integrated way.
To this end, he said farms of various sizes ranging from large plantations to medium to small-scale satellite farms have been planned under the project. President Kufuor said with 60 per cent of the country's population being rural, agricultural modernisation programmes provided the surest way to ultimate prosperity of the nation.