Cape Coast, Nov.5, GNA - Madam Cecilia Kuofie, a 45-year old farmer from Brabedze, near Jukwa, was on Friday, adjudged the overall best farmer for the Cape Coast municipality, at this year's Farmers' Day celebration.
She received a double-bed mattress, a bicycle, full-piece wax print, five cutlasses, a pair of Wellington boots, a radio cassette player and a certificate.
Madam Ama Asibu, another farmer from Brabedze, won the prize for best citrus farmer, Madam Aba Asibu also from Brabedze won a prize, while Mr Peter Nyankomago of Ankaful, won the award for best agro-forestry farmer and Mr Isaac Arthur of Kakumdo won the best vegetable farmer award.
They all received machetes, Wellington boots, wax-prints and certificates as their prizes.
The award for the best canoe fisherman, went to Mr Ekow Mensah from Cape Coast, while Mr James Brew, of Pedu, a suburb of Cape Coast and Madam Margaret Tsikata, of Abakam, near Elmina, received the prizes for best fish farmer and best fish processor, respectively.
The best livestock farmer and the best poultry farmer awards went to Madammes Elisabeth Cole and Gladys Cudjoe, of Kawanopadu and Abura, both suburbs of Cape Coast, respectively.
Mr Muniru Arafat Nuhu, the Municipal Chief Executive, congratulated the farmers for their hard work and dedication and urged them to work harder to achieve food security for the region and the nation as a whole.
Mr Justice Amoah, Municipal Director of Agriculture, said the production of maize and cassava, which according to him were the major staples for the people in the municipality, had increased considerably. He said the production of maize increased from 5,315 metric tons in 2002, to 5,490 metric tons, in 2003, and cassava, from 8,372 metric tons to 91, 210 metric tons, within the same period.
Mr Amoah attributed the increase to the effective adoption of new and improved technologies by farmers in the municipality and urged them to continue to seek assistance from the agriculture extension offices to facilitate their work.
Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, paramount chief of Oguaa Traditional Area expressed worry about the late attendance to functions in the municipality and urged organisers and residents to endeavour to keep to time.
The function which had been slated to begin at 9 am, started at 12 noon.
He also expressed disappointment that few foodstuffs were exhibited on pavilion, and appealed to officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to ensure that more agricultural produce were exhibited at the next celebration.
Between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of vegetables produced in the country have been estimated to be poisonous through the wrong usage agro-chemicals, said Mrs. Evenly Opare, Sunyani Municipal Director of Agriculture.
Mrs Opare was speaking at the Sunyani Municipality's 20th Farmers' Day celebration at Nsuatre and the launching of a campaign against bush fire at Nsuatre, near Sunyani.
She said food poisoning with agro-chemicals had become rampant in the country and cited a recent case in Sunyani where a number of people were admitted at the Sunyani Government Hospital after eating poisonous vegetables.
She said the Agriculture Department had taken number of measures to combat the problem and stressed that there had been a lot of awareness creation and sensitisation workshops organized for farmers and agro-chemical dealers.
Rendering of extension services to farmers and introducing them to organic farming were some of the methods being used to solve the problem.
Mrs Opare said cassava production had improved tremendously in the Municipality as a result of the supply of improved planting materials adding that more than 500 individuals and 50 groups farmers had been supplied with planting materials.
She advised farmers to accept the challenges and take advantage of the Government's Food and Agro Budgetary fund, which had already made provision for interested people to go into processing, storage and drying of produce to increase their shelf-life.
Mr Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, Municipal Chief Executive commended farmers for their good job in the nation saying there could not be food in the country without the hardworking farmers.
He said the Government was doing its best to make farming attractive to everybody in the country, especially the unemployed youth by constructing roads at the rural areas so that farmers could transport their produce to the markets.
He said a maize dryer machine was to be constructed at Odumase Market, near Sunyani to enable farmers to dry their maize. He urged farmers to form groups so that they could have access to loans from the rural banks to expand their farms.
He thanked fire volunteers in the Municipality for assisting to reduce the incidence of bushfires by about 50 per cent since 2001. He donated 100 Wellington boots, 50 torchlights, 100 cutlasses and Tee shirts on behalf of the Assembly to the volunteers to encourage them to continue to fight bushfires.
Twenty deserving farmers in the Municipality were rewarded for their hard work and were given prizes to encourage them.
Mr Steven Appiah of Abesim won the Municipal Best Farmer Award with Nana Kwame Gyenor, of Johnsonkrom, near Sunyani coming second.
This year's Farmers' Day in the Tema Municipality was held at Zenu, near Tema with 18 farmers and fishermen being honoured and Mr Kwapong Baffour Ayeh emerging the overall best farmer.
Mr Ayeh, 54, who holds Masters Degree in Environmental Management and a Farmer at Oyibi, cultivates mango, cassava, oranges, pineapple, processes some into fruit juice and rears livestock all on large-scale. For his prize, he had a 21-inch colour television, sprayer, Wellington boots, wheelbarrow, cutlasses and a certificate among other things.
Vice President Aliu Mahama, who was on his campaign trial stopped by and congratulated the award winners for their immense contribution to promote the growth of the economy.
He said realising their importance, the Government had agreed to modernise agriculture for rural development while it had also come out with intervention for them.
In that direction the Government had ordered 1,000 tractors for farmers to cultivate their lands to produce on large-scale for local consumption and export.
Vice President Mahama said the Government; mindful of the fact that without agriculture the country would be doomed was making frantic efforts for loan from the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) to facilitate their venture.
In a speech read for Mr Samuel Evans Ashong Narh, Tema Municipal Chief Executive, advised farmers to go into organic farming using animal waste and compost to ensure that they increased production levels envisaged through the new agricultural policies.
It is, therefore, necessary that farmers and fishermen improved upon the handling of their produce since poor food handling; either in the raw or processed form exposed consumers to various health hazards. Mr Narh mentioned for instance the dumping of raw fish on the ground in the sand before sale, use of unhygienic water from the gutter to water vegetables and misapplication of agro-chemicals in farming among other bad practices.