I have followed this year’s celebration of Farmers’ Day with keen interest. The occasion was observed with speeches given by President Mahama and other top-ranking government officials, while a handful of deserving farmers were given awards in various categories of agricultural production. The Farmer of the Year took home a cash prize of $100,000. Although money in the pocket is always useful, the reward should rather be a bundle of incentives that would empower the farmer to reach higher levels of productivity.
I would propose a package of incentives comprising the essential resources for agricultural production:
The farmer should be given secure access to land through reasonable rentals or leases. All land acquisition agreements should be reviewed and - if necessary - restructured to make them more appealing to farmers.
Another way of rewarding the farmer is to help them satisfy the labour requirements of their operations.
Capital should be another element of the incentive package. It includes not only money but also resources like equipment, fertilizer, high-yielding seeds, etc.
4. Agricultural Management Services
The farmer needs agricultural management services to offer expert advice on how to manage land, labour, capital, and other resources, especially the integration of these resources to maximize the synergy.
5. Knowledge and Training
It is also important to provide farmers with knowledge and training in modern techniques, best practices, etc., to enable them to get the best returns for their efforts and keep them in business.
An all-inclusive incentive package like this will give the farmer the most valuable resources they need to become as proficient as they can be, besides making them feel that their hard work is appreciated.
Perhaps the best incentive for the Ghanaian farmer is paying them a competitive price for their produce.
Like any worker recognition scheme, the Farmers Day awards can generate healthy competition among farmers, as long as the rewards go to the most deserving candidates. To this end, the criteria and process for selecting the winners should be transparent and well publicized to the farming community.
By the way, every farmer in Ghana deserves help and incentives, not just the ones singled out for the annual awards!
Farmers’ Day must also be a forum for addressing grievances and issues facing the agricultural sector, such as the land tenure system, pollution of water resources, and regaining the status of “leading cocoa producer,” just to mention a few. Did you know that hundreds of tons of harvests rot on farms every year in Ghana, due to lack of transportation or decent access roads? Farmers Day has been celebrated thirty times, but this issue is still unresolved!
Farmers’ Day should not be just a speech and prize-giving affair; it also has to be an occasion to take stock of challenges facing the Ghanaian farmer. An award given to a farmer should be a complete set of essential agricultural incentives, not just a cash prize, to encourage the farmer to become even more productive.
Written by: Theo Acquah
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