Farmers are an indispensable source of blessing to Ghana, and the reason is not far-fetched. The role they play in national life is so important that one need not stretch to appreciate the incredible role they play in our lives.
Indeed, there is hardly any area of life today that is not influenced by the farmer in one way or another. From the sleek suit of the office executive to the efficacious medicines which save millions of precious souls – who otherwise would be lost to a chilly death, there is very little the world can do without the farmer’s efforts.
Despite this apparent significance of the farmer to development of society however, there is a challenge that seems to have escaped the attention of the very society that is often the biggest beneficiary of farmers’ output.
Education is serially hailed by all as the bedrock of any society but, curiously, farmers who are so vital to the sustenance of our country are still largely uneducated and ill-equipped.
The largest chunk of the Ghanaian farmer-population is found in the hinterlands, where access to education still remains a mirage to many. This situation means that many farmers are bereft of the knowledge and capacity to outpace their contemporaries from other spheres – a situation that has seen a significant drop in their output and influence in recent years.
Effect on productivity
Education improves people, fosters ideas and literally lights up the world. Without it, everything is a notch more complicated and less effective.
The foregoing assertion is true in many ways as far as the output of farmers is concerned. Despite the backbreaking effort of farmers under some of the most unforgiving working conditions, productivity continues to dip because they are left to operate within the provisions of the often-little knowledge they possess on new trends in the farming discipline.
This worrisome trajectory needs to be reversed – and urgently! To achieve and sustain the huge impact government has hinged on the much-touted ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’, a collective effort to boost the capacity of farmers is crucial to mitigating the glaring effects of farmers lacking education on agric productivity – which has quite an enormous bearing on Ghana’s GDP.
There is no gainsaying that the sparse education available to our farmers has had adverse effects on their productivity, as hitherto they had not experienced the increasing dynamics which now characterise the sector.
To help bridge the gap between agric and other sectors, capacity-building presents a more realistic approach to better-equipping farmers.
Most of the farmers upon whose shoulders the food basket of the nation rests are in the twilight of their careers, and would not fancy the idea of a more formal education module that may require a lot of their time. Rather, occasionally, structured capacity building forums would go quite some distance to improve the capacity of farmers to better appreciate where the future of agriculture is currently headed.
Capacity building efforts must be calculated rather than rushed; and must involve a lot of stakeholder engagement. This will guarantee positive results which will ultimately culminate in a general improvement of the farmer’s ability to rely on improved knowledge for better output.
The agric sector is one that has diversity like no other. Because of its links to nearly every vital sector, there are a lot of stakeholders who are directly affected by the progress or retrogression of the sector.
This apparent interest from a wide range of stakeholders means support for an important task like farmer education and capacity improvement should never seem far-fetched. If the entities who directly benefit from the farmers efforts are farsighted enough to put in place measures that will ultimately see to an improvement in farmers’ education, then we may well be on our way to improving our agric sector for the collective benefit of all.
To the many aric-industry firms, the resounding message is: It is never enough to simply clink the wine-glass to toast an avalanche of profit – the true test of success is measurable by the impact made in the lives of farmers through an effort like farmer-capacity building; which in any case is bound to ricochet with bountiful returns.
New breed of farmers
Refreshingly, the narrative of farmer education is not one of total gloom. Indeed, there is a new crop of modern, sophisticated farmers who have ventured into an area previously dreaded by young professionals.
The interesting bit about the new breed of farmers currently making inroads in the Ghanaian agric scene is that this lot are quite educated – sometimes up to tertiary level. This makes this group receptive to modern farming techniques and ideas.
Additionally, these farmers are adept at being innovative enough to try new things while shedding unhelpful practices along the way.
They represent the beautiful future of farming, and thankfully their efforts continue to received commendable support from development partners and entities like Kosmos Energy Ghana – which are giving young farmers quite a lift with their ‘Kosmos Innovation Centre’ concept.
Agriculture is, and looks poised to remain, the bedrock of Ghana’s economy – at least for the foreseeable future. This means that its most important resource – its personnel – must be protected, improved and better-positioned to continually make impacts. Failure to do this will be catastrophic; so catastrophic that famine may replace politics as the most talked about theme on the vibrant local media scene.
Improving the capacity of farmers through sensitisation workshops and similar initiatives will go a long way to help our farmers – many of whom are illiterate by no fault of theirs. For the emerging breed of farmers who are blessed to have education also, we must strive to provide avenues that will ensure they never stagnate in knowledge acquisition. Rather, they must be aided to rise and rise, to help Ghana climb high on the ladder of global agricultural significance.
About the Writer:
Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa is the Lead Consultant at Agrihouse Communications, the premier data-driven agro Public Relations, Media Relations and Events Management firm. She is also the Founder of Agrihouse Foundation, a non-governmental capacity building organisation with a special focus on agro-based youth mentorship and leadership grooming, agribusiness development through the organisation of exhibitions, training programmes, research, agri-trade relations and promotions.