Mr. Gilbert Atanga, a representative of the Upper East Regional Small Scale Farmers group, said in as much as farmers appreciated the annual national best farmer awards, the award system was not helping to develop agriculture in a sustained way.
He therefore appealed to government to consider an award system that provided facilities such as farm machinery and inputs, dams and accessible roads to districts and communities that were judged to have performed creditably in agricultural production for the benefit of all farmers in such areas.
Mr. Atanga made the appeal during this year’s Farmers Week celebration that was held on Thursday in Wa in the Upper West Region.
Organised by the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition (GTLC), the event was on the theme: "Smallholder Farmers: Reserving the Right to be more Productive".
The Farmers Week celebration was instituted by the GTLC in 2006 with the aim of bringing smallholder farmers together to articulate their concerns and make pragmatic proposals to enhance the National Farmers Day celebration. The celebration brought together over 1,000 farmers from all the 10 regions of Ghana.
Mr. Atanga stressed that the national best farmer awards benefited only individuals to the detriment of the small scale farmers whose contributions to the development of agriculture in the country could not be downgraded.
Mr. Ibrahim Akalbila, GTLC National Coordinator, said listening to the concerns of the small scale farmers, one would wonder what the country had been celebrating every year as national farmers’ day.
He therefore called on institutions to target the small scale farmers to build their capacities to increase productivity.
Mr. Akalbila appealed to the government to set aside a special budgetary allocation to support small scale farmers.
He reiterated the need for smallholder farmers to form groups to enable them to become stronger and more united to be able to have influence on government policies.
Mr. Abdul-Latif Khalid, a representative of the Upper West Farmers, mentioned the lack credit facilities for smallholder farmers, lack of irrigation facilities, lack of access to profitable markets and poor dialogue between farmers and stakeholders as some of the challenges confronting farmers.