The 2019 National Best Farmer, Mr Charles Gyamfi, says he will invest his entire prize money to expand his farm.
He said his priority would be to inject a chunk of the money into irrigation infrastructure and the training of more agricultural extension officers for the farm and the rest on other plant machinery and equipment.
“I intend to invest the GH¢536,000 that I won as the best farmer in acquiring better machinery that will help me improve on my work. I have vast land that has not been developed yet, so part of this money will be used to do that,” he told the Daily Graphic in an interview on Sunday.
He said after a recent visit to Ecuador, he realized that they relied heavily on irrigation to boost their agricultural activities, for which reason they were able to cultivate crops all-year round.
“If I develop irrigation facilities, including boreholes, I will be able to boost cocoa production, since there will be all-year-round farming. It will also help me improve my aquaculture activities,” he said.
Last Friday, Mr Gyamfi emerged as the 2019 National Best Farmer at the 35th National Farmers Day in Ho and took home a cheque for GH¢536,000.
The 58-year-old from the Tano North District in the Ahafo Region also received a GH¢500,000 life insurance cover from Glico Insurance.
Currently the Deputy Chief Registrar at the Berekum District Court in the Ahafo Region, Mr Gyamfi described his recognition as being well deserved; adding that the prize that came with the award would be a massive boost to his farming business.
He stressed that the award was a morale booster for him and would help his expand his farming business.
“It is a great honour to be declared the number one out of the numerous farmers we have in this country. I did not know that I will be the ultimate winner, but I was not surprised about it because I worked hard on my farms,” he stated.
Mr Gyamfi said he was also focused on building the capacities of his workers, especially in record-keeping, the use of modern technology and the adoption of innovative solutions to agricultural challenges such as pest control and disease management.
He added that his new achievement as the best farmer placed a huge responsibility on him to do more.
Mr Gyamfi had the rare honour to be decorated by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the durbar.
You may have congratulated him on doing a yeoman’s job, but there is more to know about him.
The 2019 National Best Farmer cultivates crops, rears livestock and engages in aquaculture in what agricultural experts say is consistent with the principles of integration of farming operations.
His farm is located within Buokrukruwa in the Tano North District.
Mr Gyamfi has cultivated 10 acres of cassava, four acres of yam, 20 acres of coconut, 60 acres of maize, 16.5 acres of garden eggs and two acres of cowpea.
In terms of tree crops, he has 500 acres of cocoa, 10 acres of oil palm, 30 acres of plantain, 25 acres of citrus and 70 acres of cashew.
Additionally, he has 20 acres of teak trees.
In terms of animals, he has 75 cattle, and 2,000 layers among others.
He also has five beehives which have been colonized with bees, three fish ponds stocked with tilapia and catfish and 1,000 snails.
His farms employ a total of 158 workers, comprising 38 full-time employees and 120 casuals.
Mr Gyamfi has good knowledge of crop husbandry practices.
The remains of his harvests are used to feed his farm animals — the maize is used to feed the poultry, while the cassava peels are used as supplementary feed for animals such as cattle, sheep and goats.
By-products of his oil palm plantation constitute some of his feed ingredients too.
The droppings of the livestock constitute manure, which is detailed to maintain soil fertility to enforce organic practices on the farm, while cutting the cost of production, especially on inorganic fertilizers.
Also, the silt from the fish pond is used as planting medium for nursing cocoa.
He obtains his planting materials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
Mr Gyamfi employs both organic and inorganic methods of fertilization and also practices good sanitation on his crop and animal farms to address the problem of pests and diseases.
The practice of non-burning of harvest residue has helped him to conserve soil moisture, while the use of farmyard manure has maintained soil fertility.
He ensures value addition to his produce as a priority, as his crop enterprise turns citrus into orange juice, cassava into gari and palm fruits into palm oil.
He has been very innovative in tackling the challenges posed by poor access to the market, lack of finance, lack of farm insurance and poor road networks.
The processing of orange into juice, cassava into dough and palm fruits into palm oil to improve marketing and relying on revenue from the farm to finance the farm activities helped to address some of the challenges.
He has also prioritized the diversification of crop and livestock enterprises to avert the risks associated with farming.
Proper record-keeping represents a permanent feature of his farm operations.
He has acquired several beneficial technologies which have impacted positively on his farm operations for people in his community.
It is also interesting to note that his innovative ways of contacting his buyers and accessing e-good market have made it possible for him to reach out to both the local and export market within the sub-region.
Mr Gyamfi is regarded as a unique person and role model who, no doubt, is a role model for the youth in the community. As part of his social responsibility to his community, he has donated 100 bags of cement towards the building of a clinic in his village; supported widows in his village with foodstuffs and money, provided financial assistance for 158 people to enable them to access the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and provides free transportation services on market days.