The President's Farmers' Scholarship scheme has been rolled out. This is after the ministry of finance released GHc2 million to the scholarship secretariat to put to action the first phase of the Presidential Farmer Scholarship Scheme come September 2019. The scholarship is aimed at improving the lives of more than 120 people by covering their school fees in local tertiary schools. It seeks to provide opportunities to the beneficiaries who are pursuing different degree levels in the tertiary institutions. This puts to rest scholarship search for those farmers who were looking for one.
The scholarships for farmers, is expected to cover a total of 120 people comprising of the 24 award winners of the 2018 National Best Farmers Awards, two of their off-springs or wards, and 2 of their workers. This came as a good news. It brought hope to farmers who felt more enthusiastic about their occupation.
The announcement: President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
On Friday, December 8, 2018, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, while at the 34th National Farmers Day, carried out in Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium in Tamale, in what he described as "a very important announcement," observed that his government had increased the the national awards package for farmers and fisher folk by 24 scholarships targeting their children and their wards. He said,
"The scholarships are for local tertiary programmes, ranging from first degree to PhD, in any agricultural subject of their choice. This gesture is a further testimony of the government’s commitment to make agriculture attractive to all, especially the youth."
The needs assessment
Last week on Friday, a needs assessment review workshop was conducted in Kumasi for the twenty four award-winning farmers, and fishermen. The workshop was put together by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in conjunction with the scholarship secretariat.
Mr Kingsley Agyemang - the Scholarship Secretariat - the scholarship was a breath of fresh air in the National Farmers Day celebration, and the awarding process will not only be based solely on academics but also on the needs of the farmers. Mr Kingsley said this while addressing the audience at the workshop.
From his point view, the aim of the initiative is to help farmers improve on their farming practices and in turn, improve their production capabilities. He continued to explain that besides the need for farmers to improve on their production capabilities through capacity building, all those awarded the scholarship have the opportunity to choose a few of their dependents or workers to gain from the scholarship, based on availability, and the needs of the business.
Mr Kingsley was keen to observe that despite the fact that the scholarship only covers up to 24 national award winners, there are plans to increase the number of beneficiaries of the scholarship, in future, to include regional award winners.
He emphasized that the general goal of the scheme was to impart the right skills to farmers so as to improve their farming practices and in turn expand their business, so that they can be run like other businesses. This will increase profits, and help feed the nation.
Mr James Obeng Boateng: The national best farmer
Mr James Obeng Boateng, the 2018 national best farmer, extended his gratitude to the government for coming up with the scholarship scheme, which according to him, is a necessity for helping a lot of farmers to improve their farming practices. Mr James was quick to observe the need for farmers to have some basic management knowledge that can be applied in their farm's management, and business administration.
From his point of view, most farmers who, in spite of their education, did not have proper skills to manage and run a successful farming business. This, therefore warranted a capacity building initiative that will help improve their work. And this scholarship according to him, did just that. It allows farmers to build capacity in areas where they are weak, or lack the capacity. This in turn, improves their activities.
MoFA hopefuls: Those who see the good
Mr Robert Patrick Ankobiah - the Chief Director of MoFA - also had a lot to say. However, the highlights of his speech was when he observed that the initiative will help modernize the farming activities in Ghana, and in turn help drive economic growth. Another key point that major stakeholders took home was when he said that it is a high time that there was an importance to move from the old way of conducting farming activities, and plunge into new systems and ideas. He continued to applaud the move to empower farmers through building capacity as opposed to giving them material rewards.
Mr Ankobiah said that building farmer's capacity will go a long way to ensure that their businesses run smoothly and profitably, so much so, that they can be able to afford most of the material things that they were initially given as prizes. And make it effective, Mr. Robert said that the scholarship will be tailored to meet the farmer's needs as opposed to the normal scholarships that focus solely on academics.
One of the beneficiary of the 2018 National Best Youth Farmer, Mr Gustav Annor Owiredu, held the opinion that a lot of farmers would be able to get the needed education - through objective learning - and build their capacity that will allow them to modernize farming.
He also extended his honest gratitude towards MoFA for bringing the president's vision to life. He was quick to observe that the initiative will revolutionize farming, and make it appealing to the youth - who, according to common knowledge, form a large portion of Ghana's population.
President’s Farmers’ Scholarship Scheme should be embraced by farmers from every part of Ghana. This big scholarship for most, and a dream scholarship to those who have been waiting for one. The move is right, both in approach and intention. It takes a different approach in a bid to improve the conditions of Ghanaian farmers. it seeks to change the hearts and minds by building capacity as opposed to the previous approach which rewarded farmers with material prizes. This is truly a new dawn, one that will see the condition of Ghanaian farmers improve over time.