December 3, 2022 by Food Sovereignty Ghana
Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) joins millions of Ghanaians in celebrating the 2022 National Farmers Day. We say a big AYEEKO!! (which is congratulations in our local parlance).
We fully recognize these key stakeholders of our society who are, most often than not, overlooked when it comes to policy making. This distinguished group of Ghanaians who provide a good portion of the food we consume are marginalized and under-supported. It is therefore befitting that we as a people dedicate a day to recognize their immense contributions as well as to reward and encourage excellence in the sector through special and more relevant support packages.
FSG seizes the opportunity of the spotlight on the sector to call for greater attention to be paid to the sustainability factor in our agricultural policy. We find this introspection particularly necessary given the theme of this years celebration – “Accelerating Agricultural Development through Value Addition”.
Without a sustainable agricultural system that guarantees future soil fertility, biodiversity and the integrity of essential water-bodies, all our planning as a nation may be insufficient to help us develop. This is even more worrying given the obvious lack of direction of the state regarding the national canker we uncomfortably refer to as “galamsey”. The environment is being assaulted and the authorities are unable to execute law and order. We are committing a crime on the human rights of future generations by our lackadaisical approach to restoring the integrity of farmlands and water-bodies across this nation.
The might of the corporate lobby is increasing and the consequent impact on policy-making geared to providing investors with the greatest possible returns at the cost of farmers’ rights and the integrity of the environment cannot continue without serious interventions.
On such a momentous occasion we call on the government of Ghana to pay great attention to the real issues that affect our capacity to grow our agricultural sector. We continue to insist that there are five key areas that should be the priority of policy-makers to tackle rather than the temptation to provide short term solutions that do not grow the sector. These are improving soil fertility by drastically reducing the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, ensuring access for farmers to credit facilities, building roads from the farm gates to market centers, providing irrigation technology to compliment rainfall and the provision of infrastructure like warehouses to minimize post-harvest losses. Without tackling these basic problems, Ghana’s policy-making in favour of GMO technology must be seen merely as solving the problems of the corporations behind the powerful GMO lobby rather than those of the farmers and consequently our nation.
We repeat our call on farmers to reject offers of free seeds as this is the easiest way to entrap them into a dependant relationship with seed companies through their products and services to the detriment of their own ability to save seeds and determine what food they wish to grow and eat.
The desperate attempts by the state and its agencies in the face of overwhelming peer-reviewed independent research findings to try and convince Ghanaians on the safety and appropriateness of genetically modified organisms (GMO) make us question the purpose of our state actors as their actions clearly do not support the real progress of this nation. It is not going to be through shortcuts and remedies that we restore the destroyed soils and loss of biodiversity but by adhering to more agroecological practice in our national food production. This is the most appropriate system of farming as it supports small landowners who represent the majority of Ghana’s farmers and certainly in our national interest.
As the most important stakeholders in the food production value chain, peasant farmers deserve to be respected and have their rights protected to ensure they continue to play the invaluable role that they have for millennia. Farmers’ Rights include the ability to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and these are under heavy threat from the new Plant Variety Protection Act. We shall, in the interest of farmers and that of future generations of Ghanaians, continue to challenge this new legislation in the judicial system. We are encouraged by a recent High court decision in Kenya in favour of the Kenya Peasants League to suspend the government’s decision to allow the importation of GMO in the country pending the determination of a second law suit lodged against lifting the ban.
In support of our farmers not just in word but in deed, FSG calls on Ghanaians to patronize local dishes that provide beneficial returns for both the farmer and the consumer.
Long Live Ghana’s Farmers, Long Live Ghana!
For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Communications Directorate, FSG