A 45-year-old dispatch rider with the Accra Central Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, Corporal John Henry Moffatt, has been adjudged the Best Livestock farmer in the Accra Metropolis at the 36th edition of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Farmers and Fishers’ Day celebration.
John Henry Moffatt, a dispatch rider who is married with five children had engaged in farming since 2016. He is into goat, pig, guinea fowls and poultry farming rears six rabbits, 1005 broilers and 300 layers as well as 54 goats under very strict hygienic conditions.
John Henry Moffatt was on Friday awarded 10 drinkers and feeders, assorted veterinary drugs, vegetable seeds and agrochemicals, a knapsack sprayer, spades as well as cutlasses, and a certificate.
Mr Richard Edwin Web, a 50 -year old man, was also adjudged the overall best farmer in the metropolis. He cultivates pawpaw, blue flower, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, bell pepper, pigeon pea and has five ducks, 35 cooks, 200 broilers, 600 layers as well as four goats.
He was awarded a battery cage system, a knapsack sprayer, assorted vegetable seeds, and agrochemicals, watering can, cutlasses, wheelbarrows, a pair of Wellington boots, and spades.
Madam Yvonne Adutwum- Ofosu won the best Backyard Gardner in the city while the best Poly Fisherman prize went to Mr Francis Anum Lartey. Best Hook and Line fisherman also went to Mr Emmanuel Quaye whilst Madam Emelia Adjin- Tettey, Madam Joyce Mensah Kwaw and Mr Moro Nuhu, emerged best fish processor, Agro Processor, and Crop Farmer respectively.
The Accra Academy was also awarded the best institution in the metropolis for its contribution towards the development of Agriculture in the city. They took away a Polytank, Knapsack sprayers, spades, wheelbarrows, as well as assorted vegetable seeds and agrochemicals.
Metropolitan Chief Executive of Accra, in a speech on the theme: "Ensuring Agric-business Development under COVID-19 opportunities and challenges” at the newly constructed Bukom Astroturf Park located in the heart of Ga-Mashie stressed the need for a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive food production system that would stimulate job creation.
He said the importance of agriculture cannot be overemphasised hence continue to sustain a substantial proportion of the population in Accra.
"Agriculture until recently has always been the main driver of our national economy and will remain important for years to come. Hence it is essential to create awareness and encourage citizens to venture to into backyard farming.”
He disclosed that as part of efforts to promote agriculture in the city the Assembly's Agricultural Extension workers had been engaging farmers in the Metropolis to promote alternative farming such as backyard and home garden practices adding that the Assembly had begun cultivating vegetables such as lettuces and cabbage on the rooftop of the City Hall.
He said the government was concerned about the plight of fishermen in Accra and beyond hence the distribution of outboard motors at subsidised prices, construction of the Jamestown fishing harbour among others as well as the construction of the Salaga market.
Dr Charles Edem Etse, Metro Director of Food and Agriculture said the theme for this year's farmers and fishers’ day imposes a duty on all citizens to help ensure that their self-reliance encompasses agriculture.
He announced that in arriving at the eventual winners, names of nominees in all categories were submitted to the Department of Agriculture by the Agricultural Extension Agents and the nominees were selected based on criteria developed by the Ministries of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) which includes good record keeping, good husbandry practices, general knowledge in agriculture, environmental consciousness and contribution to one’s community among others.
He said upon receipt of nominees, a selection committee was formed which visited the farmers at their place of work and interacted with them, awarding marks in accordance with the drawn-up criteria or guidelines adding that those who best met the set criteria ended up being selected as the best in their various categories.
He pointed out that although this year had been extra daunting; Under Covid-19 conditions, farmers and fishermen continued to work under difficult conditions to put food on the tables of Ghanaians.
"In other words, we want our farmers and fishermen to see their vocation as a business venture. They should approach their vocation with the view to make profits that will lead to development. It also means that all actors in the Value Chain of Agriculture must take advantage of agriculture with the view to make good profits that lead to the development of the family," he said.
He intimated that in a bid to overcome the challenge of loss of fertile farm-lands due to urbanization, the AMA Department of Agriculture had assisted several households to establish home gardens adding that several inhabitants were now eating what they had grown in their backyards.
"The days of “operation feed yourself” are back here with us again in Accra. As we continue to intensify our efforts at encouraging a lot more people to utilize their backyards productively, we urge all who desire to do so to contact the Agricultural Extension Officers in their areas or the Agriculture Office for technical assistance," he said.
He also called for the creation of cottage industries for processing to add value to the food produced to reduce post-harvest losses and enhance the incomes of farmers and fishermen.