Coconut which was mentioned as part of the six tree crops that the government hopes to financially support its production under the proposed Tree Crop Development Authority is ‘mysteriously’ missing from the policy document presented to Parliament.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the launch of the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) held at Dunkwa-On-Offin in the Central Region in April, 2019, named coconut among six tree crops the government hopes to prioritize in its developmental agenda to boost agriculture in the country.
The others include rubber, oil palm, coffee, mango and cashew.
Cabinet, kasapafmonline.com understands, overwhelmingly approved the policy when it was presented to them for consideration.
It was also captured in the policy document, Tree Crop Development Authority Bill, 2019, which was referred to the Food and Agriculture Committee of Parliament for consideration and report to the plenary.
However, the crop is strangely missing from the policy document that Parliament is currently considering.
At the consideration stage of the Tree Crop Development Authority Bill, 2019, on the floor of the august House on Thursday, November 29, 2019.
It took the intervention of the Minister of State at the Office of the Senior Minister and MP for Evalue-Gwira-Ajomoro, Hon. Catherine Afeku, to remind the House about the President’s priority tree crop.
This was after she passionately appealed to the Second Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who was presiding over the sitting, to consider adding coconut to the policy which was being considered by the legislature.
“…it can be amended by the Minister to ensure that coconut is back on the Tree Crops Development Authority Bill, 2019, so that the good people of that part of Ghana where our first President lived on coconut water will also have a relief, especially, the women”, she noted.
She added ” In this new day where we are using all these processed oil and we’ve been told severally by research that coconut oil is far better. So, we are appealing emotionally to you Rt. Hon. Speaker, that this coconut will not be left out just as mango for the good people of Brong Ahafo will not be left out. So, we are emotionally appealing to you, Mr. Speaker, to have mercy on the good people of Nzema”.
Her appeal touched the hearts of Members present, especially, the Minority side who threw in more arguments in support of the amendment to include coconut to the Tree Crops Development Authority Bill, 2019.
NDC MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, argued that it was imperative for the people of Western and Central regions to benefit from the resources that will be made available for the development of tree crops as mentioned in the bill.
He therefore, moved for the amendment of Clause 26 of the Bill to define Tree Crop to include oil palm, rubber, Shea, mango, cashew and coconut.
“Mr. Speaker, I so move on her behalf (Hon. Catherine Afeku) for this amendment based on the passionate appeal she made to this House. That a number of constituencies in the Western Region and Central Region have the potential for the development and expansion of the coconut tree and so we should include it so that they will benefit from the resources that will be made available from the development of tree crops mentioned in the bill”, he informed.
The Second Deputy Speaker, Hon. Bagbin, who was also touched by the plea of Hon. Afeku, assured that her proposal will be put into consideration, noting that “That is what multi-parry democracy is about – how you respond to the diverse interest of the society”.
A member of the Food and Agriculture Committee, William Agyapong Quaittoo, had told the House that coconut and mango were dropped from the six tree crops as mentioned by the President at the launch of PERD due to financial constraints.
However, the explanation he gave was not weighty enough for Members to solidarise with him, living the Ministry of Food and Agriculture with no option than consider including both crops in the bill.
After back and forth arguments over the matter which was extended to Friday’s sitting, the amendment was effected to include coconut and mango into the bill with Members urging the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to look for funds for the production of the two crops.