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Today is National Farmers Day. The event is on the theme: “Planting for Food and Jobs — Consolidating Food Systems in Ghana”.
The 37th National Farmers Day will be used to honour farmers and fishermen for their enormous contributions to the development of the economy.
At a farmers’ forum in Cape Coast in the Central Region yesterday, participants called on the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), headline sponsor of the National Farmers Day, to extend its services to rural and remote farming communities to deepen financial inclusion.
They noted that the absence of financial institutions in some villages deprived farmers and others in the agricultural value chain, including processors, the opportunity to access banking services, such as credit facilities, to boost their businesses and cultivate the habit of savings.
The forum is usually held on the eve of the National Farmers Day.
It was attended by about 200 farmers, including awardees for the 37th National Farmers Day and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
It offered the participants the opportunity to engage stakeholders and policy makers in the sector, related ministries and financiers on issues pertaining to the sector.
The participants commended ADB for keeping faith with its commitment to support the development of Ghana’s agricultural sector and farmers.
They observed that the bank’s support had been steadfast and they were hopeful of greater gains with its continued support.
Some of the participants who spoke with the Daily Graphic said they were optimistic that the ADB would increase engagements with farmers for mutual understanding and improved productivity in the agricultural sector.
A cocoa farmer, Mr Kwabena Daniel, said while they knew and appreciated the bank for its support to farmers, many rural farmers did not have access to the bank’s services
“For some of us in the villages, it is very difficult to say we even want to save our money because the bank is far from us and that makes it difficult for us to have access to its services,” he said.
A participant from the Upper West Region, Mr Remy Ngmen, observed that “the absence of the bank’s branches in our villages prevents us from having access to loans and other support systems the bank has for farmers and so we appeal to the bank to consider setting up branches in our areas”.
The Managing Director of the ADB, Dr John Kofi Mensah, pledged the continued support of the bank to farmers and the agricultural sector of the country.
He stressed that the bank was committed to ensuring that all the government’s agricultural-related activities succeeded.
He said players in the sector, particularly farmers and fishers, had played critical roles in positioning the economy and catering for the food needs of the citizenry.
He indicated that measures were being put in place to ensure that farmers and fishers accessed credit facilities at lower interest rates.
“We are currently working on reducing interest rates for farmers and fishers as a way of supporting their efforts,” Mr Mensah said.
The Director of Research, Statistics and Information Management (RSIM) at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), Mr Ishmael Nii Adjei Browne, for his part, advised the youth to tilt their interest towards aquaculture farming.
He said the sector was a strong complementary one that offered a vast number of opportunities which were yet to be explored, stressing that it would be timely bail out for youth who were unemployed.
The Director of Agricultural Extension at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Paul Siameh, said the ministry was ready to put policies in place to support all categories of farmers and individuals in the commodity value chain.
The Omanhen of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, who chaired the forum, encouraged farmers to make use of modern technologies to maximise their output.