-To Build Capacities, Establish Collaborations
Some fifteen national best farmers at last year’s edition of the farmer’s day have embarked on a week’s tour to Morocco to learn more about the country’s way of running their agricultural system and as well establish direct collaboration with some of the farmers there.
Agriculture in Morocco employs about 40% of the nation’s workforce making it the largest employer in the country. Moroccan agricultural production also consists of cash crops, cereals, fishery, animals, and livestock among others.
The tour, organized and sponsored by the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat, with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration also enhanced the capacities of the Ghanaian farmers.
It can be recalled that last year at the 34th National Farmers Day held at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made that all important announcement where he disclosed that government had added to the national awards package for farmers and fisher folk 24 scholarships for the farmers and children.
“The scholarships are for local tertiary programmes, ranging from first degree to PhD, in any agricultural subject of their choice. This gesture is a further testimony of the government’s commitment to make agriculture attractive to all, especially the youth,” the President said.
Speaking to the media during the tour, the Registrar of the Ghana Scholarships Secretariat, who took time of his busy schedules to join the farmers during their various tours, commended President Akufo –Addo for the novelty.
Mr Agyemang said the scheme, which is a new twist to the National Farmers Day celebration, would not be purely academic but dependent on the needs of farmers.
According to him, the objective is to help the farmers improve on their farming practices to eventually improve on their production.
He explained that aside from the farmers themselves who might need capacity building in special areas, there was the opportunity for the beneficiaries to select either their dependents or workers to benefit from the scholarship, based on the needs of the business and who was available.
Mr Agyemang said even though the scholarship covered the 24 national award winners, the number, in the future, could go up to cover regional award winners.
He said the overall objective of the scheme was to equip farmers with the needed skills to help them expand their farming businesses and run them like other businesses and thereby improve on their incomes and produce to feed the nation.
“Looking at how far Morocco has advanced in terms of agriculture, I believe we could not have chosen a better place but here. And the kind of things they have seen here is wonderful which I believe will in one way or the other help them back in Ghana,” he said.
Ghana’s Ambassador to Morocco, Stephen Yakubu, who received the delegation said the Ghanaian farmers were in the right country in relation to what they do.
“I was happy when the Registrar of the Scholarship Secretariat informed me about this tour. The agric industry in Morocco is a big one and I am sure our best farmers will have a lot to take back home,” he said.
“The things that the farmers have seen here are doable in Ghana. It all depends on our collective efforts. Farmers,” he added.
The National Coordinator at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Philip Osei Nkrumah, said the programme demonstrates government commitment to build the capacity of farmers.
He stressed: “It was the vision of government to transform the country’s agric sector and improve human resources.
Alex Koranteng, the second runner up national best farmer, said what they have seen here can also be implemented in Ghana and he was optimistic that with the numerous policies being undertaken by the Akufo-Addo government, Ghana can become next Morocco in West Africa.
“Though I see vast difference between our agriculture and theirs, Ghana can still catch up with Morocco in terms of Agriculture. I think the issue has got to do with money and having more support from government, something I believe it’s ongoing,” he said.
The national best livestock farmer, Henrietta Osie, for her part, was impressed with the sort of technology implored by Morocco in its livestock industry.
“The technology used here as compared to Ghana is very huge. No wonder they barely record outbreak of diseases among their livestock here. Ghana has the land and all, we can do this back home,” she said.
She, however, said government can help improve the livestock industry in Ghana by providing support for livestock farmers.
“I know the government has built ranches for our farmers but more must be done.
The national best coffee farmer, Madam Rose Doku, who carried with her some of her coffee beans in Morocco was commended by some of the Moroccan authorities for producing, what they described as, one of the best coffees in the world.
The delegation visited places like the Chaouia estate in Ben Slimane where red meat is produced and the Milhoc Factory, where the company produces chocolates products from Ghana’s cocoa.
The delegation also visited Koutobia Holdings, the largest chicken factory in Morocco. Before leaving, Ghana’s Ministry of Agriculture, met with some representatives of OCP, the world’s leader in phosphates to show them the investment opportunities in Ghana.