The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has called for a review of the selection process for the National Best Farmer Award to make provision for smallholder farmers, fisherfolk, the youth and women.
That, the Association said would reflect the diverse efforts of all farmers and the nation’s quest to build a just and inclusive society.
A statement issued in Accra by the Association commended the national awards committee for its work and urged it to expand the processes.
The 2020 National Farmers Day celebration is on the theme “Agribusiness Development under COVID-19 – Opportunities and Challenges.”
It said the Association was of the opinion that the process could be improved to ensure that it reflected the current needs and challenges of the sector.
“This will strengthen not only the raison d’etre of the awards, but will also ensure it becomes an effective tool for driving national cohesion and inclusivity for the sector,” it added.
The statement said PFAG and Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers (GhaFFaP) congratulated all smallholder farmers in Ghana, especially women who were most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said it was imperative to recognise that the stakeholder group continued to be the essential engine propelling the supply of raw materials for industry, while ensuring the availability of food commodities for the domestic and international markets.
“Our assessment of awardees over the last two decades found farmers with large farm sizes as well as those with the capacity to invest in diversified agricultural commodities on a large scale emerging as overall award winners,” the statement noted.
It said a closer examination suggested that, majority of women, youth, smallholder farmers and fisherfolk were targeted for district level awards for specific commodities, which were associated with low returns and income.
“One woman winning the award over a 20-year period is incredibly worrying and not reflective of the immense contribution of women in the development of agriculture and family food security in Ghana,” it added.
The statement said reviewing the award criteria, would allow for equal competition among all farmers, including; women and fisherfolk and boost the morale of marginalised groups and improved productivity in the sector, particularly as some smallholder farmers posted high level of productive efficiencies per productive factors.
It noted that historically, medium and smallholder farmers and fisherfolk constituted about 83 percent of the 11.3 million farmers in Ghana; but they had never won the overall national best farmer award.
The statement said large-scale farmers with minimum farm size of not less than 100 acres, who constituted about 17 per cent of farmers were the recipients of all the overall national best awards, and must be relooked.
It said the neglect of smallholder farmers and women in the agenda setting of the national farmers’ day celebration and the national best farmers’ selection process undermined their role as key stakeholders contributing to agricultural development in the country.
The statement said the use of scale of production as a key metric in selecting the overall best farmer, “suffers the same curse as economic productivity as used in economic parlance, which has since evolved to be more inclusive, accounting for important socio-cultural dynamics.
“These dimensions include; factors undergirding access to land for women, environmental awareness, innovation, contribution to poverty reduction and crucially reducing the inequality gap.”
It is, therefore, important that the metrics for selecting the overall best farmer reflected all the dimensions of productivity and socio-cultural narratives while making room for exploring issues such as good agronomic practices and environmental awareness-two areas, which were cardinal to sustainable food production, the statement said.