President John Agyekum Kufuor has acknowledged the enourmous contributions of the nation's hardworking farmers and fishers to the socio-economic advancement of Ghana.
"The nation acknowledges you for feeding the ever-growing population, for providing raw materials to the factories and also, for contributing substantial revenue, especially foreign exchange to the national coffers.'
Adding: 'You remain, indeed, the backbone of the economy,' President Kufuor made the commendation at the 24th National Farmers" Day Celebration held on Friday at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The Day, since 1985, has been set aside by government in recognition of the vital role farmers and fishers play in the Ghanaian economy in order to motivate them to produce more food.
A 54-year old medical practitioner, Simon Saku Sarfo of Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region, was adjudged the over-all National Best Farmer. A three-bedroom house to be put up at a place of his choice by the Agricultural Development Bank was his prize.
Janet Nyanbaw, 45, from the Upper East Region and Morris Jerry from Wa, were the First and Second Runners-up respectively who took home Nissan Pick-Up and Tractor respectively.
Other top prize winners were: Clement Kwasi Kuma from Juabeso, Western Region-the Best Cocoa Farmer; Nana Atobra Aduroye from Enchi, Western Region- the Best Fish Farmer and Emmanuel Owusu from Jama, near Tachiman, B/A as the Best Poultry Farmer.
President Kufuor said farmers have been 'solid pillars' behind his administration.
He therefore appealed to them to give his successor the same support and good will that he has enjoyed from them during his two terms in office.
The President stated his government's happiness about the positive manner in which farmers and fishers responded to its agricultural policies in food production, cocoa and horticultural products.
This, he noted, has resulted in increased production even during the lean season.
'Thus, to some extent, the nation has been saved from the food shortages and accompanying hardships including soaring prices, which many countries around the world are currently experiencing,' President Kufuor mentioned.
He paid special tribute to cocoa farmers for doubling production over the past four years and setting an all-time record of over 700,000 tonnes.
'The phenomenal increase in production as a result of the application of science, technology and other best practices, should convince farmers that it is possible to achieve the new target of one million tones per annum by the end of the decade,' the President inspired the farmers.
He therefore challenged farmers to aim ultimately at recapturing for Ghana her prestigious position as the higher producer of cocoa in the world as his government continues to pay a very attractive producer price to them, including payment of bonus twice every year, as well as the increasing capacity to process more beans locally.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Ernest Akubuor Debrah, noted that subsistence farming, chemical inputs, credit, extension services and climate variability severely limit the capacities of small-scale farmers to enhance agriculture productivity.
He has therefore called for a 'green revolution' for Africa to boost agricultural production, increase economic growth and achieve food security in the sub-region.
'The prudent policies, interventions and programmes initiated by the NPP Government since 2001 as well as the hardwork and commitment of our farmers have all contributed in minimizing the adverse effect or impact of the global food and energy crises on Ghanaians,' said Mr Debrah.
He stressed that Ghana continues to be self-sufficient in the production of staple foods, whilst mentioning on-going projects to raise the level of production of rice, meat and fish at the national level which include the provision of 50 percent subsidy on cost of fertilizers and waiving of levies on some petroleum products.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Ignatius Baffuor Awuah in a welcome address, appealed to residents in the region to join the crusade against bush fires which impedes farming in the region during the dry season.