The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has launched an elaborate programme to transform the two major festivals of the Ga People – Homowo and the Ban on Drumming – into periods of serious agricultural activities under the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign.
The initiative aims to rekindle the history of Homowo as a festival for ensuring food security through “hooting at hunger”. Similarly, the Ban on Drumming and noise making is to enable the Chiefs, Priests and People to forgo merry making and concentrate on clearing and cleaning their farms ready for planting food crops.
To this end, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto has instructed the Greater Accra Directorate of his Ministry to ensure that enough improved and subsidized seeds and fertilizers are easily accessible by farmers in the region. He warned against farmer complaints about unavailability of the subsidized seeds and fertilizers which compels the farmers to buy at exorbitant prices from unapproved input dealers.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, launched the programme while planting maize seeds on parcels of land released to a group of farmers by the Military Academy in Teshie, Accra. He was supported by the Greater Accra Regional Minister and the Teshie Mantse, Gbetsoolo Nii Ashity Akomfra III who took turns to also plant maize seeds on the plots.
Dr Owusu Afriyie explained that from records, the six-week duration ban on noise making was a period preceding Homowo, which gave the farmers a serene, peaceful atmosphere for uninterrupted farming. He said this made it possible for bumper harvest to be realised for the preparation of Kpokpoi, the traditional food for Homowo.
The Hon Minister also referred to the meaning and significance of the names of certain suburbs of Accra, such as Abelenkpe (corn is last) to emphasize that Accra in general used to be a food basket which needs reviving.
Dwelling on the new focus of Homowo, Hon Dr Owusu Afriyie appealed to all residents of the region to be part of the celebration of the two festivals by taking to farming to help produce enough food in the region. The Minister spoke about the achievements of PFJ which have not only saved the country from hunger but enabled us to export food to neighbouring countries in return for foreign exchange. He said that the flagship programme which started with 200,000 small holder farmers barely 4 years ago is now targeting 2 million farmers this year. He therefore urged more farmers to register in order to benefit from the subsidized prices of inputs and also increased harvest.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister appealed particularly to the youth in the region to take up farming on a large scale as an alternative to elusive white collar jobs in the region. He said that PFJ has made farming noble, modern, attractive and lucrative and therefore they should make a search for those who are succeeding in agriculture and try to emulate them.
He urged the leaders and chiefs in the region to embrace the new agricultural dimension for Homowo and mobilise their subjects to participate in PFJ with all seriousness.
The Teshie Mantse, Gbetsoolo Nii Ashity Akomfra III embraced the challenges being proposed by the Minister of Agric and pledged to start farming himself and together with his elders.
A farmer, Kojo Tetteh thanked the Minister for Food and Agric for his promise to make seeds and fertilizers readily available at subsidized prices. He asked the Ministry to be vigilant with the input dealers because the inputs are usually not available when ‘we need them’.
Beyond Homowo, the Greater Accra Department of Agriculture aims to support households, especially women and youth to produce and process selected vegetables to improve household nutrition. The project is expected to cover all 29 districts of the region. Target crops to be produced include vegetables such as tomatoes, pepper, onion, okra and cabbage and cereal such as maize and rice.
Series of training, home and farm visits will be undertaken to the beneficiaries to ensure they apply good agronomic practices in their fields to produce quality crops.