Farmers and other agricultural-based organizations are raising concerns about the organization of the National Best Farmers Awards Scheme.
Agriculturists in Ghana are being honored today at the national, regional and district levels for excelling in their farming and fishing businesses and contributing to economic development.
Government is spending over 3.8 million Ghana Cedis to honour 74 farmers at this year’s National Best Farmers Awards ceremony.
But some interest groups say the scheme can be better organized to benefit majority of farmers.
The Agro Mindset Organization, an NGO, has acknowledged significant improvements in the scheme, but the group is worried the selection criteria favours wealthy large scale farmers to the detriment of the larger majority of small holder farmers.
It therefore wants government to implement a targeted screening regime, which focuses on quality of work than farm size to allow for small holder farm operators to also benefit from the 'goodies' of the National Farmer’s Day Award.
“We know there are District and Regional awards, but we think there should be a way to assess farmers, which could someday see smallholder farmers also winning the National Best Farmer Award, thereby propelling them higher up the wealth ladder, and it is only then that we would see the awards scheme promoting the agricultural sector as a whole and not skewing solely for the benefit of already wealthy farmers,” a statement issued by the Organization said.
Agro Mindset Organization has also called for a re-packaging of the award package “by scrapping the policy which allows for personal freebies such as houses and pick up vehicles worth thousands of Ghana cedis to be given, which does not in any way help improve upon the agriculture sector as a whole. And rather focus on giving out agricultural related sophisticated tools, equipments, and materials, which would in the end help further advance the agricultural sector as a whole”.
Meanwhile, a former District Best Farmer is advocating a review of processes in selection of district, regional and national best farmers.
According to Yaw Amankwah, the present arrangement leaves room for doubts and he wants the selection committee to promote fairness and transparency by publishing nominees and criteria for winners.
“After the select committee comes to your farm, I think it would be better for them to write back to you and tell you why you win or why you did not win”, hemaintained.
Mr. Amankwah said this is important for the farmer to improve on farming practices to increase production.
The 28th National Best Farmers Awards Ceremony is under the theme: “Grow more food: Strengthening Farmer Based Organisations for Market Place Bargaining Power”.