Omanhene of New Juaben and Chancellor of All Nations University Daasebre Prof. (Emeritus) Oti Boateng has urged Minister of Food and Agriculture Dr Akoto Owusu Afriyie to scale up interventions to improve efficiency and income status of farmers within the agriculture sector.
Speaking to Dr Afriyie when he [Dr Afriyie] paid a courtesy call on him at Koforidua, the former Government Statistician said “Hon. Minister, what is also clear is that, despite the priceless contribution of agriculture to Ghanaians, we don’t have competitive farms; our farmers don’t make enough money from farming to support themselves and their families, and there is less diversity and efficiencies in the agricultural sector”.
Daasebre Prof. (Emeritus) Oti Boateng urged the Agric Minister to draw lessons from his award-winning Root-Based Model for sustainable development of Africa to excel and accomplish the overall agenda of the sector.
He noted that “From the above assessment it becomes clear that Ghana’s agriculture needs serious modernisation. There is also an urgent need to fuse a veritable linkage between agriculture and industry in Ghana. There is a need to redefine farming as a business that must be approached with entrepreneurial skills and effective training of farmers for optimal outcomes. Indeed, COVID-19 crisis calls for prioritising and investing in the dominant agricultural sector where change is mostly needed”.
BELOW IS THE WELCOME ADDRESS DURING A COURTESY CALL ON OMANHENE OF NEW JUABEN TRADITIONAL AREA BY THE HON. MINISTER FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
BY DAASEBRE PROFESSOR (EMERITUS) OTI BOATENG
OMANHENE OF NEW JUABEN TRADITIONAL AREA.
Hon. Eastern Regional Minister
Hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture
Esteemed Traditional Leaders
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
I welcome the Hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture, Mr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, to the Yiadom-Hwedie Palace in Koforidua with a cordial hand of fellowship.
Agriculture is the mainstay and driving force behind Ghana’s economy, accounting for over 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and employing over 50 per cent of its workforce. Sustainable development for Ghana is, therefore, unthinkable without a healthy and sustainable agriculture.
Hon. Minister, what is also clear is that, despite the priceless contribution of agriculture to Ghanaians, we don’t have competitive farms; our farmers don’t make enough money from farming to support themselves and their families, and there is less diversity and efficiencies in the agricultural sector.
Towards the goal of ascertaining important facts on the grounds on the foregoing, the New Juaben Traditional Council organised in February 2020 the first-ever survey of farmers in the Traditional Area under the Root-based global model for Development. The findings, embodied in a new book titled ‘Implementing the Root-based Development’, encompass the basic development concerns of demographic information, benefits emanating from community engagement with stakeholders, economy and infrastructure, education, health and agriculture.
The survey results on agriculture indicate that the three main crops grown in the Traditional Area are Plantain, Cassava and Maize which together account for over 86 per cent of the total. Plantain alone accounts for over 40 per cent of the total while Cassava and Maize account for 22 per cent each of the total.
The results also reveal that only one out of ten farmers in the communities received the benefit of extension services. Out of the 10 per cent total extension services provided to the community farmers, the Government’s share of these services through the Ministry of Agriculture is below 4 per cent.
The results again indicate that less than 7 per cent of the farmers practiced irrigation whilst the overwhelming 93 per cent of them relied on rain-fed agriculture. Furthermore, less than 20 per cent of the farmers joined any Agricultural Association leaving over 80 per cent of them without the benefits which such an Association bestows.
The above results portray the general characteristics of subsistence agriculture in the communities which is largely typical for the rest of the country. Traditionally, government provides seedlings, fertilisers and related support to farmers, telling them what to grow or produce in a supply-driven approach. When their produce is ready for the market, they often struggle to sell what is produced. This has been the cyclical approach to agriculture, which ends up making the farmers even poorer as they produce more based on ‘cobweb theory’ because they cannot obtain markets to sell. It is only with demand-driven agriculture that farmers would be able to determine the volume of various crops to produce to curtail the perennial food glut and wastage across the value chain.
From the above assessment it becomes clear that Ghana’s agriculture needs serious modernisation. There is also an urgent need to fuse a veritable linkage between agriculture and industry in Ghana. There is need to redefine farming as a business that must be approached with entrepreneurial skills and effective training of farmers for optimal outcomes. Indeed, COVID-19 crisis calls for prioritising and investing in the dominant agricultural sector where change is mostly needed.
Government should engage the Root-based institutions and relevant investors to develop agriculture as business ventures. Such engagement should consider the establishment of food processing industries in the areas of corn, mango and pineapple which received overwhelming support in the baseline survey of the communities in New Juaben. Such strategy is in line with the principle of value addition to agricultural products.
In a nutshell Hon. Minister, the way forward is a committed, sincere and concerted effort by the government under your leadership for a re-thinking, a re-planning and a re-working of our land usage, and of how we work to increase the capacities of the agricultural sector to be more productive, innovative and profitable. We must implement realistic and creative programmes that increase the capacities of farmers to be globally competitive. Farming should no longer be a sweat of last resort. We must develop and also adopt sustainable technologies that increase yields in timely and healthy ways.
We must adopt green energies that are environmentally friendly and yet less expensive for our produce. We must implement farm practices and global market reaches that make cement niche domination.
The Root-based based global model provides a good helping hand in this task. The work calls for good-faith dialogue and informed discussions between stakeholders. There is a lot that your ministry can do in collaboration with stakeholders and we must start now. Our first task must be a conversation between farmers, the farming community and the government under your leadership. The Root-based global Model is ready for use at any time. Let us work together to transform our mindsets, our ways of farming and of how we treat farmers and of their produce.
Once again, I welcome you to New Juaben and look forward to working with you.