I am the farmer, but am I proud?

  The dust settling after a heavy storm on a desert takes long to settle but with some dust still in the air, I will just cover my nose and mouth with my handkerchief and whisper my thoughts as a cough to visible air. I hope others won’t close their ears or move away but cough according to my pattern. I have vowed to keep quiet about national issues but I was wrong. I’m certainly not an advocate for a “Youth in Farming Module” if GYEEDA gains salvation from the Presidency and Parliament. Yet, allow me to be a Youth Chauvinist for this senseless and derogatory cause we’ve chattered as a people. As a proud African youth growing up on the soil and want my great children to enjoy my fruits which I wouldn’t want it to be bitter, I can’t keep quiet while I can help.
And they thought let reward farmers on December 5th every year and also make it a public holiday. Good the day was set aside because I enjoyed the day when I was a student and headmasters and mistress too were happy because they could fuse the mid-term holidays in. Very sad my nephews didn’t know where they weren’t in school that day but I can’t blame them I blame every citizen like myself who kept mute and didn’t educate. The problem is older than Methuselah but we have resting Solomon’s failing to find solutions to it.
“I am the farmer! I grow the food of the land. I employ about 70% of my population…”
Those were the words I rattled back in St. Anthony’s nursery school, Sekondi. Gradually I moved up to the education ladder and had Agricultural science compulsory added to my daily time-table but never had the chance to visit a farm but the school had a soccer field. All I am saying is that Agriculture in Ghana is not paid attention to even in the education sector. We have been people who are happy living on grandfather’s glories of the past and beat our chest when saying the Agriculture sector employs about 70 per cent of the people, ask the current ministers and he will give you same statistic older than his father. Ask any Ghanaian student who a farmer is, and don’t be surprise to hear a person who grows food. What about the man who rears animals?
Ask yourself why I would run away from an agriculture class at Shama senior high school, I did because agriculture isn’t wrapped with ribbons used for a state function like the president’s birthday, it presented in rags and you wouldn’t even feel proud to call it a cousin if it was to be a family member. Agricultural is not made attractive here. When the word farmer comes in mind in Ghana, we think about the poor people or those who couldn’t go to school those who think they have education and less education on things that matters. I want farming to be more attractive and rewarding. It should be more attractive and rewarding. It should be presented in a package you can’t resist. Most of the youths are running to Europe, those who could stay home and work to feed the world. They leave Africa for Italy to pluck tomatoes, grapes, etc. Farming is respectable and profitable in Europe. If we pay more attention to agriculture in the country and work hard to get more youths in, it will boost productivity in both crop and livestock farming. It will be good for the economy.
Now, we claim as a nation that agriculture is very productive and lucrative and so should be commercialized and well-resourced to woo the youth into it or I’m sure at the least bait them. Where lies the wisdom in this wish or dream when the Best Farmers in Eastern region of Ghana and I believe in some other parts of the country as well were awarded with 2 bars of Key Soap, 3 rolls of toilet paper, 3 cutlasses, Wellington boot and 3 Joy Daddy Bitters (Alcoholic Drink). Come on, let be truthful and respectful to ourselves its 2014! How can the youth be coaxed into farming and peasant to say the least, when the Best Farmers in Eastern Region got those? Is this another Millennium Development Goal? What youth in agricultural was the president talking about? I believe not because agriculture is one of our highest foreign income earners and deserves many incentives and feast as I said earlier.
Our agricultural ministry comes to the party when it’s this time of the year. Yes it there but not here so my leaders who gets the chance to go there but bring what they learn there but these people go the for meetings and ends up buying new phones when returning. I have a minister who can’t answer the gestation period of a rabbit or the types of maize we have in Ghana. Do you blame me for not entering into agricultural in Ghana? I hope no because I am not the only Ghanaian youth who have about 60 hectors of farm spread across my exercise and homework books from primary to SHS.

  SHAME on you, organizers! Would you have taken what these farmers had as your reward after organizing such a terrible event your children won’t attend? These deserve far better awards than the bald heads you offered. This ill motivation must stop! Where lies the education you had in your prestigious universities and the ‘holy’ CV’s you presented. If you ask a sponsor for sponsorship and you don’t have your needs clearer to him, he provides you with what he want! We’re use to our old ways of thinking, at least for once we should think outside the box or like there is no box as leaders and humans. If the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) sponsors the national event, can’t we have other regional companies to help? May King Solomon make ants imbue some sense, foresight and wisdom into you this day?
To the hardworking farmers, congratulations!!! Work harder and don’t relent in your efforts. I pray for more rains and a season free of weeds and insects as well as plenty harvest. But for our health sake and to buy more time for life before death proves to us that indeed vanity is vanity, please reduce the use of fertilizers. I believe manure would be better.
To the Youth, heavy rains start with showers and so does making mistakes and success with trying. Remember a failure only means you’ve found a new way which wouldn’t work. Take a bold step, try something worthy and legal and keep the hope and faith amidst the hustle, tussle and struggle. Agriculture and for that matter farming is very productive and profitable. If for nothing at all, it would put a day’s three squared meal on your table and clothe you. Whether as peasant as a peanut, you need to make ends meet and in the end meat. Government interventions are there to aid and God is ever-present to bless the works of your hands.
To the government, most of your citizens don’t know about this day or of it importance expect those who feel the wind in their stomach in the year 1983. I thank God it took me 11 years after to arrive.
*This day should be a day should be fused with a national food day (if only we have) where we cook our local foods and share among other. This will create revenue for the people not for you alone. It will promote food tourism and tourism .
* There should be some scholarship scheme for the children of the award winners in the same field if they wish to continue with what their parent do.
*Loans should be made easily accessible to farmers to help expand their farms. If you ask my old grandpa for an equilateral she will probably give me to you because that what farmers have been made to look like, they are poor.
*Student who performs well should be given scholarship and incentives and also sent to seminars and programmes not people who will bring back phones and perfumes after an agricultural workshop.
*We should forget about the cocoa we have boost about all our lives. We should look at other cash crops and livestock and fish farming as a potential revenue generation venture.
And they gave our daddies Joy Daddy bitters, but were our daddies JOYFUL?
Kwesi Bekoe.

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