On the occasion of Farmers Day 201, I wish to salute our farmers and fishermen throughout the country for their courage, determination and grace even in the face of great difficulties. I wish to encourage you knowing that you together do more to hold up the economy and the Ghanaian standard of living more than any group in the country.
Our fishermen have had to endure indignities at the hand of government agencies who rather than protecting Ghanaians, rather leave foreigners to destroy the ocean bed and our local fishing stock. Last year, I had cause to write as follows:
“As all the talk has shifted to oil and gas, it is important we take a pause and reflect on the fact that Ghana would have been a pretty miserable place to live without the results achieved by our farmers and fishermen. Faced with daunting challenges including the continued invasion of our ocean bed by foreign fishing trawlers, importation of even tilapia, high production costs, our farmers and fishermen must be congratulated for their staying power and the fact that they have made it possible for inflation to remain low and contribute to the lowering the cost of money.
On this special day, I wish to focus on the fishing industry. In the past few years, the fishing communities in the Western, Volta, Greater Accra and Central Regions have experienced increasing poverty in all its forms. Consequently, many children in these communities do not go to school or drop out of school at early ages. It is for these reasons that some of us from coastal communities have had to carry an increased burden as advocates and investors to improve the life experiences of the affected communities. On this day, my appeal to government is that it must pay special attention to our fishing communities and the almost 3 million people whose lives depend on lake, river and ocean fishing.
Irregular supply of pre-mix fuel, activities of pair-trawlers, unsafe landing beaches and a general increase in the cost of fishing inputs have made many in the industry take on a heavy debt burden. Unfortunately, access to credit has reduced this year and when it is available, the cost of money remains high even though their contribution has reduced the rate of inflation for the nation.”
I wish to remind the government to keep faith with our farmers and fishermen. We must use the state’s purchasing power to protect our farmers and fishermen and increase their standard of living.
To our farmers and fishermen, I say, well done!
Papa Kwesi Nduom
December 1, 2011