Essamang (W/R), A-59-Year old tailor from Appiah -Suman, Mr. Charles Otoo was adjudged the overall best farmer in Wassa-East District in the 36th farmers Day celebration.
He cultivated 20 acres of Cocoa farm, five acres of cabbages, rice, cassava, maize, sugarcane, yam and animals such as goats, fowls and sheep.
For his prize, Mr. Otoo received a tricycle, wheelbarrow, a pair of Wellington boots, a knapsack sprayer, 10 machetes, a sword and a lamp.
The best female farmer, Madam Monica Nwiah, 59, from Dompim No.1 also received a tricycle, a knapsack sprayer, a pair of Wellington boots and machetes.
The best Youth farmer award went to Mr. Peter Kwesie Cudjoe, a native of Brempong. He received a tricycle, wheelbarrow, knapsack sprayer, gasoline, Wellington boots, and machetes,
In all, over 100 farmers in the ordinary awards category, were given attractive prizes such as Wellington boots, machetes, motorised cocoa slashers, petrol, knapsack sprayers, bicycles, cassava grinding machines, weedicides, water pumps, clothes, materials, bars of key soap, cocoa powder and wheat brown.
The colourful event coincided with free HIV/AIDS test for farmers in the area as well as a live musical performance by Joyce Blessing, a popular Ghanaian Artiste.
Addressing the gallant farmers at the 36th Farmers’ Day celebration at Essamang in the Western Region on the theme, “Ensuring Agribusiness Development in COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities”, the District Chief Executive, Mr. Wilson Arthur on behalf of President Nana Akufo-Addo, said it was time for farmers to see farming as a real business to derive maximum benefit from.
He said the District can now boast of the biggest oil palm processing factory in West Africa at Daboase through the effort of Plantation Socfinaf Ghana.
The District had also established the Narubiz Rubber Processing factory at Dompim No.1 and the Golden State Resources had made waves to establish another oil palm processing factory at Ateiku with a Quarry factory at Dompim.
Mr Arthur who is also the NPP Parliamentary Candidate for Wassa-East, said on assumption of office, cocoa farmers were cutting their trees indiscriminately and replacing them with rubber plantation based on low yield.
He intervened and asked them to form cooperatives with assistance from the government
As part of measures to improve yield, cooperative cocoa farmers received 55,000 bags of fertilizer last year and 120,000 bags of fertilizer this year before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr.Arthur said the Assembly bought 30 spraying machines with additional 160 machines received from COCOBOD plus free chemicals and formed voluntary mass spraying gangs and free repairs of default machines to boost Cocoa production in the District.
The Planting for Food and Jobs flagship programme started with 140 farmers but more than 4,000 farmers later joined which had increased food productivity.
Mr Arthur reiterated the government’s intention to roll out a pension scheme for cocoa farmers and asked the people of Wassa-East to vote massively for the NPP to do more.
District Director of Agriculture, Mrs Helena Addo saluted all actors in the agricultural value chain for their contribution towards the attainment of food security in the country to spearhead growth and development.
She said the government recognized the agricultural sector as the main anchor of economic growth but unfortunately the sector had witnessed a decline in production level due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said small holder farmers were the source of food supply but the world’s poorest and needed support, information and Protection.
Mrs Addo said, “COVID-19 poses a severe challenge to all food producers but offers an opportunity to rethink our supply chain and create more sustainable food production system for the future”.
She said COVID-19 was directly affecting the agricultural sector by slowing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate to 0.9% in 2020 with its attendant economic depression, job cuts among others, adding that the agribusiness sector may worsen with extreme poverty and food insecurity which will affect foreign exchange.
The Director identified COVID-19 as an opportunity to revamp the sector to create new ideas to make the sector more resilient.
It is also an opportunity for opening mechanization centres in all districts, supplying farmers and other actors in the agricultural value chain with inputs such as irrigation systems, improved seeds, and improved breeds for livestock production as well as all year round provision of fertilizers among others to farmers.
Mrs. Addo said the Ministry of Agriculture would ensure the modernization of agriculture to make the youth venture into the sector to reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
Source: Ghana News Agency