A 57-year old woman from the Agona West Municipality in the Central Region has been crowned as the National Best Farmer for 2023.
For her prize, Charity Akortia received a cash prize of GH¢1 million sponsored by the Agriculture Development Bank.
Theophilus Ezenrane Ackah from the Western Region was adjudged the first runner up. He took home a high horsepower tractor head, trailer, a set of implements, and a boom sprayer. His prize was sponsored by the Ghana Exim Bank.
The second runner up award was taken by Kwaku Yeboah Asumah from the Bono East Region. His prize was an MF tractor head, trailer, and set of implements. This was sponsored Stanbic Bank.
The awardees were honoured at the 39th National Farmers Day Celebration Awards Night held at the University of Mines and Technology Auditorium at Tarkwa in the Western Region on Friday night (Dec 1).
In a message read on her behalf, Madam Akortia thanked God for the award and pledged to invest the money in her work and other corporate activities.
Charity Akortia has a diversified farm in both crop and animal husbandry with an excellent layout and clean environment where proper technologies are adopted, reports Graphic Online’s Emmanuel Bonney.
Her farm, Greenworth Farm, is highly diversified with crop enterprises covering the broad areas of roots and tubers, cereals, vegetables, plantation crops, legumes and timber species.
The livestock enterprises consist of large ruminants, small ruminants, pigs, rabbits, grasscutters and local and exotic poultry.
In addition, Ms Charity has 185 boxes of beehives, which have been colonised with bees, and two fish ponds stocked with tilapia and catfish.
She has 1200 bags of mushrooms.
For all these and more, Charity Akortia, owner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Greenworth Farm, stood tall among her peers scoring 85.6 per cent to emerge 2023 National Best Farmer, while her close contender, Theophilus Ezenrane Ackah, scored 76.1 per cent to pick up the First Runner-up.
For her prize, she received cash of GH¢1 million sponsored by the Agriculture Development Bank.
She is into the cultivation of about 36 different crops with varied acreage, including 33 acreage of cocoa farm, 88 acres of coconut farm, 450 acres of maize farm, 64 acres of mango and 120 acres of rice farm.
Additionally, Ms Akortia rears varied animals such as 467 cattle, 1023 pigs, 107 goats, 550 sheep, 97 rabbits, 85,000 exotic poultry, 3,700 snails 185 boxes of beehives, local poultry, guinea fowl and ducks, among others.
The 57-year-old farmer from the Agona East District of the Central Region, with tertiary education, has been farming for the past 30 years, employing a total of 277 workers, made up of 64 full-time employees and 212 casual employees.
The farms are located in the Agona East, Agona West, Ekumfi and Ketu-North districts.
Ms Akortia cultivates crops and rears farm animals for very good reasons consistent with the principles of integration of farming operations.
The leftovers of her crop harvests are used to feed her farm animals, for example, the maize is used to feed the poultry birds and cassava peels, and groundnut/sweet potato vines are used as supplementary feeds for the cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.
The droppings of her farm animals and other crop residues are applied to maintain soil fertility and cut down the cost of inputs, especially inorganic fertiliser.
Also, the water from the fish pond is used to irrigate vegetables and cocoa during the dry season.
With good knowledge of crop husbandry practices, Ms Akortia obtains her planting materials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Crop Research Institute, and Ghana Cocoa Board.
She employs both organic and inorganic methods of fertilisation and also practices good sanitation in her crop and animal farms to address the problem of pests and diseases.
The practice of non-burning harvest residue has helped to conserve soil moisture, while the use of farmyard manure has maintained soil fertility.
The major processing activities of the crop and animal enterprises are coconut in juice/cookies/oil/cake/chips, pepper into powder and paste and groundnuts into a paste.
Also, she produces seeds of okro, pepper and garden eggs and cowpea to support seed supply to farmers.
Planting and harvesting are done through both mechanised and manual operations.
Ms Akortia has good criteria for the selection of breeding animals.
Her desire to keep a particular species of animal is motivated by the demands of the market, profitability, environmental suitability and monetary returns.
Feeding of her cattle is done extensively through grazing, while she uses residues of harvested crops such as cassava, cowpea, rice and maize crop, to feed her small ruminants.
She keeps to the structured vaccination regime to secure the health of her farm animals.
She also processes other meat and fish products (catfish, tilapia, pork, chicken and honey).
For awards, Ms Akortia is not a novice. She has won several awards, namely 1st Runner-up National Best Farmer (2018), 2nd Runner-up National Best Farmer (2015), Regional Best Farmer (2013 and 2020), Municipal Best Farmer (2011), Best Seed Producer-District (1995 and 2010).
She is a member of the National Farmers and Fishers Award Winners’ Association of Ghana (NFFAWAG), Poultry Farmers Association of Ghana, Women in Poultry Value Chain, Coconut Federation of Ghana, Chamber of Commerce, and Mensahkrom Cocoa Growers Association.
Ms Akortia is able to make good profits from selling her farm produce and animals.
She has a good attitude towards the farming business and she can take action in solving the basic problems arising from the activities of the farm.
As part of the social responsibility to her community, Madam Akortia has undertaken many projects for the benefit of the communities where she operates, as well as some institutions.
For instance, she provided a corn mill for the Nsuayem Community, registered 72 prison inmates at Osankrom Prisons Camp for National Health Insurance and also donated foodstuffs (gari/rice/eggs/vegetables, etc.) to the Osankrom Prisons Camp.
She has also donated eggs and foodstuffs to the Swedru Presbyterian KG School to support the school feeding programme, donated 600 exercise books to the Nsuayem DA Basic School and Swedru AMA ‘A’ School, as well as offered four-week training to 25 farmers in maize production, among others.