If I were the wife of a farmer...
Published On: 3 Jan 2015
If I were the wife of a farmer in Ghana I cannot tell what demands I will be able to make on my husband or how enjoyable my life will be.
Life in rural Ghana is typically limited with lack of access to basic facilities. Being married to a farmer is likely to be quiet challenging.
As I watch my television on Farmers day, I remember my uncles and aunties who are farming in the Eastern region, in the Akyem Abuakwa district and say a word of prayer for them. They lead a very simple life. They go to their farms, come home eat, chat, visit their friends and families and go to bed. The provision of electricity has transformed the village and they are very excited about the opportunities. They are mostly asleep by 8pm every day. Anytime they call they complain about one thing or the other. Their demands are nothing major. They seem to get by but they always complain about the boredom and poverty in the village.
The African farmer is perhaps the most important person on the continent. What is life without food and who can survive without food and water?
There is an old adage that says “WE EAT TO LIVE; WE DON’T LIVE TO EAT”. As simple as it may sound, it is a very deep statement. There is no living being that can survive for long without food. Almost all the services that are provided are meant to make our lives comfortable and progressive. Not many of them are critical for the survival of the human race. We know for example that the role of Doctors is very important in every society but we also know that many communities are able to survive without hospitals. The doctor-patient ratio in Africa and in Ghana especially underscores the fact that many people can survive without Doctors.
In the same vein we can survive without Teachers, Accountants, Governors and Artisans. However nobody can survive after weeks without food. I can tell you that by the grace of God, I together with my family and household sometimes do not visit the hospital in a whole year. But can we survive without food even for one month if God does not grant us the kind of grace He granted Jesus? The answer is NO.
Living a healthy life begins with eating healthy food and this is made possible by the farmer. In fact, food on its own is a kind of medicine and many plants, vegetables and herbs are the main source of nutrients needed for the survival of the human race.
In some parts of Africa especially in the South and Eastern parts, farmer organizations and agricultural modernization have helped to improve the output of the African farmer. However in West Africa and in Ghana specifically the farmer is still battling with unfavorable weather conditions, lack of access to credit and appropriate modern technology-backed implements. The land tenure system is also a great drawback to our society because it limits access to large farmlands.
In Ghana the image of a farmer evokes the image of a tired, weary and frustrated person struggling to feed his family. In villages farmers wives are largely uneducated, unmotivated running around looking for market for their produce. Due to lack of storage facilities and as a result of the perishable nature of their farm produce many of them end up being cheated in the trade. The story of the Ghanaian farmer is really not a very pleasant one.
Knowing how important farmers are what do we do to make their lives a bit more comfortable and rewarding?
I commend Former President Rawlings for instituting the National Farmers Day and Awards ceremony, and subsequent Presidents for sustaining it over the years. Since 1988 the first Friday of December has been declared a public holiday in honour of our famers and this is most commendable. It has been the highest and biggest day of honor for farmers till date.
But we need to do more. When I look around I see all forms of awards being instituted for Radio personalities, Musicians, Marketers and bankers, etc. An additional award scheme for Farmers will not be misplaced. A private award ceremony will further escalate the issues of farmers and help society address their needs. We also need to allocate more media space to promote successful farmers especially female farmers to encourage younger people especially females to go in to farming.
The voices of farmers must be elevated at the highest level. Their issues must be trumpeted loudly for everybody to hear so that those who have direct influence on decision making do everything it takes to make their lives enjoyable. The farmers’ wives and their children must also enjoy the fruits of their labor as politicians and other professionals do. These days, there is a new drive and the penchant for strike or demonstration. Can you pause for a minute to imagine if all famers in Ghana were to go on strike?
For an industry that until recently was the biggest contributor to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) we certainly must do better than this. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has a big task at hand if their aim is to encourage the Youth to go into agriculture.
For every young person making a decision to take on Farming as a major vocation or occupation may be a difficult one, but not a completely hopeless one. In my simplistic thinking if I were to get married to a young farmer these are the questions I will ask him:
How comfortable will I be in the chosen location of the farm?
Will there be good roads and other amenities?
When I am pregnant will I have easy access to good antenatal facilities?
In the village my husband chooses, will there be good nurseries and good pre-school facilities for my children?
Which basic schools will my children attend and can they compete with the children of Politicians, Lawyers, Judges, Doctors, Businessmen, and Teachers/Lecturers etc in the cities?
Can a farmer’s wife afford to buy things like made in Ghana chocolate or pebbles made of a raw material produced by the Farmer for her children?
Can she readily afford to buy good clothes for herself and her children?
Today many people farming in the rural areas lament about life in the village. Many of them are unable to educate their children, yet we hear scholarships meant for a section of them and taken over by the children of ‘Krachies’. Some of the farming communities have no access to schools and children whose complete their basic education do not make the grades that can qualify them to Senior Secondary schools. The young men run to the cities; the girls become teenage mothers and those who are left end up as house helps in the big cities.
On the back the celebration of the National Farmers Day I put myself in a position of a farmer’s wife to appeal to Government, businesses and investors to do more for farmers. Insurance companies should establish creative packages for farmers and savings institutions should find ways of getting farmers to do more savings. Since farmers’ incomes are seasonal, measures should be put in place to empower farmers to acquire multiple skills. They can learn to sew, bake, dance, design clothes and teach.
Some of our farms can be turned into tourist sites – It is interesting to note that there are children in Ghana who have never seen live chickens, geese, lamb, kid, foal, turkey, Ostriches and rabbits. We can organize tours for schools and teach them how these animals are fed and nurtured.
I am aware that with the advent of telecommunications access to communication between farmers and their suppliers and marketers have been greatly improved. Companies like MTN, Isoko and others are using technology to improve the lives of farmers. I am also aware of very few companies like Wienco and ADB who assist farmers. As we commend them we also ask them to do more.
I stumbled across an innovative online site called Farmersonly.com. FarmersOnly.com is an online dating service for farmers, ranchers, and people living in rural areas of the United States and Canada. FarmersOnly.com was founded in May 2005 by Jerry Miller who was at the time the owner of an ad agency in Ohio. Jerry's friend, the widow of a farmer, struggled with finding a new relationship, so Jerry began FarmersOnly to meet the needs of people in rural areas who share conservative values. The site now has over 1.5 million members. It is so amazing how creative people can be.
As we celebrate Farmers day I commend them for their sacrifices and the efforts they are making to feed the nation. We urge them to continue their good work and as they do that we also encourage every one of us to continue to do what we can to make their lives better. At least if you are not in a position to do anything at all just say thank you to farmers anytime you take a bite.
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