Mr Maxwell Kwame Essibu, a 49-year-old Management Consultant from the Twifo-Atti Morkwa District, has been adjudged the Central Regional Best Farmer at the 38th Farmers’ Day celebration.
The two-time award winner; the Best District Farmer in 2014 and Best Regional Plantain Farmer in 2015, was honoured for his exploits in crop and animal farming including cocoa, plantain, okro, cocoyam, rice, garden eggs, timber and cattle.
With 25 years experience in farming, he is also into poultry, turkey, Guinea fowl, duck, pig, rabbit, grasscutter, fish, goat and sheep rearing.
Mr Essibu received a tricycle, gas cooker, television set, radio set, suitcase, weedicide, a piece of cloth, boots, farming implements and a certificate.
He was offered a one-day treat at the Ridge Royal Hotel with his family.
Mr Christopher Ackon from the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipality, won the Best Regional Fisherman and received a tricycle, television and radio sets, a piece of cloth, net and other fishing logistics, and a certificate.
In all the region honoured 30 farmers and fishermen including the best disabled farmer, best crop, livestock, citrus, oil palm, and coconut farmers.
This year’s regional event was held at Jukwa in the Twifo-Hemang- Lower-Denkyira District where the Twifo-Atti Morkwa, Abura Asebu Kwamankese (AAK), KEEA, Cape Coast, and Assin South joined the Region to host the event.
It was on the theme: “Accelerating Agricultural Development through Value Addition.”
A special feature of the event was a farmers’ market where they offered fresh farm produce and value-added products for sale at farm gate prices.
At the district level, 34-year-old Madam Rasheedatu Saani was crowned the Overall Best Farmer for Twifo-Atti-Mokwa, Mr Daniel Kamason, 54, was the Best Farmer for AAK, and Mr Kwame Osuman from Komenda Dominase won the coveted prize for KEEA.
In Assin South, Mr Ibrahim Osman won the Best Farmer Award while Mr Charles Nkrumah won it for Cape Coast.
All winners were given assorted logistics and certificates in recognition of their hard work.
The Regional Best Farmer, Mr Essibu, in his address, pledged to invest his prize money in establishing a foundation to encourage talented young people to study agriculture at the tertiary level.
He urged government to intensify investment in the agriculture value-chain to boost the country’s economic prospects.
Challenges like post-harvest losses, lack of buyers, bad roads, neglect of rural farmers and lack of proper irrigation systems were the bane of the agriculture sector, he said, and called for swift intervention to salvage it.
“A lot of perishable produce should be processed in Ghana to attract foreign inflows and investments to promote the socio-economic development of the country. That’s why the One District One Factory (1D1F) is commendable and government needs to do more to realise the vision behind the agenda,” he said.
Mr Essibu cautioned against delays in putting mitigating factors in place to prevent Ghana from facing food crisis in the near future.
He said it was important to develop high yielding crops compatible with the varying qualities of soil in different parts of the country to improve yield.
He urged the relevant institutions and agencies to train and equip the youth in agriculture to enhance Ghana’s food sufficiency and urged the youth not to be discouraged by the challenges.
“Farming has enriched my life because it brings me a lot of income. If we take the right approach, it will reduce poverty in Ghana drastically,” he added.
Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, the Central Regional Minister, reiterated government’s commitment in creating an enabling environment for public and private investments in agriculture.
She said public private partnerships would be encouraged to enhance investments in the agriculture value- chain to reduce post harvest losses.
She encouraged Ghanaians to develop the taste for local foods as they were of superior quality, available, affordable and hygienically packaged for consumption as compared to foreign products.
That would also create jobs and wealth for the country, Mrs Assan said, and commended farmers for their hard work and contribution to the economy.
Dr Peter Omega, the Regional Agriculture Director, said the Fisheries Commission was training farmers in the aquaculture sector as part of measures to address the rapid depletion of fish stock in the country.
In furtherance of that, some individuals had received support to reclaim some illegal mining sites for aquaculture projects, which were yielding results at Diaso in the Upper Denkyira West District.
For the cocoa sector, he said a total of 383.73 hectares of farms infected by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Disease had been sprayed and rehabilitated since 2017.
He added that some 268.53 hectares, representing 69.98% of the rehabilitated farms, had been replanted with free plantain suckers, hybrid cocoa seedlings, and desirable economic shade trees commensurate with the farm sizes.