Despite the political sloganeering, hollow rhetoric of President Akufo-Addo and the much-touted interventions of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government in the Agricultural sector, the reality on the ground is that the sector is not yielding the desired dividends and farmers are suffering, the Ranking Member on the Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee of Parliament, Eric Opoku has said.
He said the declining trend of growth for the agriculture sector from 2017-2019 completely belies the President’s claim that the Agriculture sector was doing well.
Speaking at a public forum in Accra under the auspices of the Coalition For Restoration (CFR) on the theme: “Assessing The Three Year Reign of President Akufo-Addo”, he said, in 2017 the agriculture sector grew by 6.1%. This, he explained, was largely driven by cocoa and food crops.
In 2018, Government, he stated, implemented an expanded version of the planting for food and jobs programme, which was funded through a facility secured by ex-President John Mahama. In spite of this huge investment, Hon. Opoku said growth in the sector declined to 4.8% at the end of 2018 under President Akufo-Addo as capture in paragraph 500 and 502 of 2019 budget and 76 of 2020 budget.
577,000 farmers according to him participated in the above mentioned programme noting that 183,000 metric tonnes of subsidized fertilizer were distributed to farmers across the country.
In 2019, the Ranking Member of Agric Select Committee of Parliament who also doubles as the Member of Parliament [MP] for Asunafo South, said, the NPP government claimed that the investment in the sector was further increased, disclosing that, 920,000 farmers were engaged while 292,242 metric tonnes of subsidized fertilizer were deployed under the planting for food and jobs programme. He referenced paragraph671 of the 2020 budget to back his claim.
The MP for Asunafo South further said Akufo-Addo inspired government also claimed that through the Canadian facility of 125 million Canadian dollars secured by the Mahama-led NDC government to boost agriculture in Ghana, 216 brand new pick-ups were distributed to the departments of Agriculture in the district assemblies. 3,000 motorbikes, according to him, were released to enhance agric extension services while 2,700 agriculture extension officers were also deployed.
He opined that despite this huge investment growth in the agricultural sector for the first half of 2019 was 2.6% compared to 4.7% within the same period in 2018. Thus, the claim by President Akufo-Addo in the recent state of the nation address that the agriculture sector grew by 6.4% in 2020 is completely false and not borne out by the fact contained in the government’s own 2020 budget statement approved by parliament.
He said this paradoxical situation shows that contrary to the long cherished agricultural principle that “you plant a seed and reap a harvest”, the Akufo-Addo government has been planting a harvest and reaping a seed in the last three years.
Source: Adovor Nutifafa