The General Agricultural Workers Union, an umbrella of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, has asked government to cancel the celebration of farmers’ day as a statutory public holiday, arguing it has no significance to the country’s hardworking farmers and fishers.
“The holiday has no significance to farmers. Farmers per their nature of work do not need a specific day through legislation as holiday. The holiday does not benefit them,” GAWU said in a statement to congratulate farmers on the occasion of this year’s celebration Friday, December 1.
Following the vital role played by farmers and fishers in lifting Ghana’s economy from the 1982-1983 food crisis, government in 1985 instituted Farmers’ Day to recognise and motivate them to produce more. Since 1986, when the first event was held, the day has been celebrated as a public holiday in the country but GAWU believes celebrating the day as a public holiday creates loss of productivity to the state without any real or latent benefit.
“Farmers know when to rest, and they will do so at their own convenience cognisance of their work demands than per statute or legislation. More so, the public holiday does not add or do anything to ease the numerous challenges confronting farmers,” it held.
According to GAWU which is working to protect the interest of agricultural workers, the holiday costs Ghana millions of cedis hence ought to be abolished and the amount generated channeled into supporting the agric sector. “It is GAWU’s request that government should abolish the farmers day holiday and use the money to be generated on that day to support agriculture,” it suggested.
It observed the extension services division is in dire need of basic tools and equipment to enable officers deliver basic but vital agronomic services to farmers, yet monies are channeled into celebrations.
Again, it said even the workers of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Fisheries who are involved in preparing the celebration of the day do not enjoy the holiday, and questioned “What then is the use of the holiday?
Whose interest does it serve? Who bears the loss of productivity on that day?” GAWU advised that in the quest to improve upon agricultural productivity and create jobs, action must be taken to eliminate both institutional and practical wastage in the sector.
“The public holiday is one such huge avoidable loss to the country and should therefore be discontinued henceforth,” it argued, and underscored the need for government to align the day to a more radicalized, revolutionary and pragmatic national policies.