FARMER’S DAY: FARMERS TO BE HONOURED ON FRIDAY
About 135 farmers and fishermen will be honoured at the 36th edition of the National Farmers Day in Techiman, the Bono East Regional capital, on Friday.
The event, held annually on the first Friday of December to recognise farmers and fisherfolk who have contributed to the sustenance and well-being of the people, has received an early reschedule to make room for the December 7 general election.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be held virtually, with the physical durbar limited largely to a selected number of guests.
This year’s celebration has been christened: “Ensuring agribusiness development under COVID-19 — Opportunities and challenges”.
Change of date
Presenting a statement on the floor of Parliament yesterday, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said owing to the upcoming general election on December 7, the date for the event had been altered from the first Friday of December — as dictated by the convention around the celebration — to November 6, 2020.
“This decision was taken because the general election, in our considered view, takes precedence over every event on our national calendar,” he said.
The minister said the threat of the COVID-19 to public health and safety — which necessitated the imposition of restrictions on the movement of people at some point during the year and the enforcement of other protocols which had persisted thereafter — raised serious questions about the feasibility of organising this year’s National Farmers Day.
“Indeed, we were caught up in a dilemma, a Catch-22 situation, of not honouring our farmers and fisherfolk as a national gesture of appreciation for their roles in national development and the likely adverse effect on their motivation or to proceed to organise the event, with all the attendant risks,” he said.
He, however, said after extensive consultations, the decision was taken to organise the event with some innovative solutions, such as leveraging technology and ensuring strict adherence to the protocols and directives announced by the President.
“Mr Speaker, as a result, for the first time in the history of the preparatory phase of the event, the 2020 National Farmers Day celebration was launched virtually,” he said.
Reasons for event
The minister told the House that the main factor that tipped the decision in favour of organising the event was the fact that the pandemic had highlighted the indispensability of farmers.
He said in a very significant way, farmers and fisherfolk kept the nation afloat at the peak of the pandemic by continuously “breaking their backs to put food on our tables and providing our nutritional needs”.
“This was a vital requirement for strengthening the immune system to effectively combat the pandemic.
“Further, Mr Speaker, we recognise that the toil and sweat of farmers has ensured that the country’s food security is firmly intact and has helped to avert hunger,” he said.
Make agribusiness attractive
Contributing, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, stressed the need for proceeds from the Planting for Food and Jobs programme to be used to feed factories under the One-district, One-factory initiative to bolster industrialisation.
That, he said, would guarantee decent prices for farmers for their toil and boost agriculture in the country.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Mr James Avedzi, asked that farming should be made attractive to the youth.
He also urged parliamentarians, ministers of state and other government officials to venture into farming to help the youth see agribusiness as a lucrative venture.
Day not holiday
Meanwhile, Friday, November 6 will not be a holiday, the Minister for the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has indicated.
Traditionally, the National Farmers Day is marked as a statutory holiday, but the Interior Minister yesterday said while Friday would not be a holiday, the original date, the first Friday in December, which falls on December 4, will be a holiday.