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December 5th is a National Holiday in Ghana. Farmers' Day was instituted in 1984 after a severe period of drought and the reduced crops the previous year that caused food shortages in Ghana. It was decided to recognize the hard work of the country's many farmers and the day became a National Holiday in 1995. Each year during the run up to that day, events are held around the country to select District and then Regional candidates for the honor of being recognized by the country's President as the Farmer of the Year for Ghana.
|The display of prizes|
This year the District selection ceremony was held in the village where I live. School was dismissed in the afternoon so that we could attend. Produce from the farms, along with the prizes for the selected farmers were displayed.
Prizes increase in magnitude as each level of competition is reached. At the District level prizes were; bicycles, motorbikes, beds and mattresses, farm tools, fertilizers, etc. At the National level; the grand prize has included a pick up truck, and even a house along with being a recognized celebrity, all carried on national TV.
|Produce from the farms of this District|
In the picture the green items are bunches of plantains, larger than a banana and a staple food in
the village along with the large brown tubers which are yams and cassavas. Bright orange are cocoa pods. Also shown are tomatoes, corn, red hot peppers, eggs, okra, cucumbers, garden eggs and oranges. It was a colorful display of food along with the colorful dress worn by the women and men.
The event is sponsored by the local representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and was attended by many of the local political officials as this is an election year in Ghana.
|Village Chief makes an inspection of the produce and prizes|
The Village Chief attended, gave his remarks and inspected the produce as well as the prizes. He is a highly respected leader of the village and its residents, a majority of them farmers on the surrounding land.
This year there has been some discussion about the date of the Farmer's Day events as it is very close to election day for Ghana's President as well as other political positions. The campaign is in full swing with lots of loud speakers making comments, plenty of posters and flags and the radio full of the latest comments by and for the candidates. As a guest I stay well clear of the campaigning, but it is an exciting time to be in Ghana and witness their political process at work. My fellow teachers hotly debate the issues and are proud of the noisy but peaceful process in Ghana.
While I am the recipient of the tasty harvest of fruits and vegetables by the farmers in this District, much still depends on the local rain fall. I am thankful for the farmers and a good harvest as we head into the dry season.