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Beyond the National Farmers’ Day; What next?

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37-years ago, the government instituted an award system to reward farmers for their contribution to the food needs and development of Ghana. This year’s celebration is under the theme: “Planting for Food and Jobs- Consolidating Food Systems in Ghana”

The agriculture sector continues to hold a key place in Ghana’s economic transformation agenda. The sector currently contributes about 20% to the GDP of the country.

Among the major actors in the agriculture sector are farmers, of which women form a large proportion, being highly represented along the value chain from the production, aggregation, processing, and marketing.

It is for this reason that it is commendable that Governments over the years have set aside the first Friday of December every year to celebrate

Productivity remains a challenge to many smallholder farmers. Though agriculture employs over 30 percent of the nation’s population, the sector’s contribution to GDP has declined to 20 percent over the years.  At the individual farmer levels, many are unable to meet the national achievable levels. This is due to their inability to get the required input support in a timely manner.

Despite great improvement in the economy of Ghana, inequality still persists. Owing to structural and institutional weaknesses, the benefits of the growth in the economy is not evenly distributed. Some vulnerable sections of society have seen their poverty increase rather than ease, especially the northern ecological zone that relies mainly on agriculture as their main source of livelihood.

It is for this reason, the theme for this year’s celebration, “Planting for Food and Jobs- Consolidating Food Systems in Ghana” very appropriate. The supply of inputs though welcome, need to be relooked. A large portion of smallholder farmers is unable to get the inputs due to location and other institutional challenges.

Therefore, beyond the celebration for the theme to be realized, there is the need to improve the access to productive resources by smallholder farmers so as to improve their productivity. This can be done by putting smallholder farmers into groups. If they are into groups, it will be easier for them to access the inputs.

There is also the need to improve access to credit facilities for farmers. Credit over the years has been a leading challenge to farmers in Ghana. Especially smallholder farmers. Therefore, would be the need for government to leverage on existing structures at the community level such as the village savings and loans associations (VSLAs) to assist farmers get credit.

Finally, there is the need for building strong multisectoral platforms around some of the major challenges confronting the sector. For instance, research and extension linkages. Research and Development(R&D) need to be given the needed attention to ensure they come out with the needed crop varieties that are suitable for the different climatic zones of the country.

Certainly, consolidating the gains made is important, but there is the need for the necessary conditions such as farmer cooperatives, access to credit, R&D among others. These will ensure that the government flagship programme is not only but translates into more resilient food systems.

Emmanuel Wullo Wullingdool

Policy Advocate and Consultant: Agriculture and International Trade

0249731699

wullingdool@gmail.com

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