Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has lamented that inadequate budgetary allocation for the celebration of the 2018 Farmers’ Day has compelled the Ministry to rely heavily on corporate Ghana and development partners to ensure a successful event.
According to him, constraint of the national budget has been a major setback for the preparation of the day because the allocation of GH¢2 million approved for 2016 and 2017 has been maintained for 2018.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto expressed these frustrations in a statement he delivered in Parliament on the celebration of the 34th National Farmers day, which falls on Friday 7th December, 2018.
Farmers’ Day, he said, is a big event that has serious budgetary implications and expressed hope the budget approved for the celebration will reflect the status of agriculture as the lead sector propelling Ghana’s economy to the desired prosperity.
He urged Parliament to give the matter serious attention and favourable consideration when reviewing the 2019 budget estimates for the Ministry of Agriculture because there is lot of promise for the sector.
He noted that the theme for this year’s celebration ‘Agriculture: Moving Ghana Beyond Aid’ is relevant and appropriate as it reflects the premium government places on agriculture but especially the farmer who is the focus and target of government policies.
He said, “Government has demonstrated its avowed commitment to changing the face of Ghana’s agriculture with the Planting for Food and Agriculture (PFJ) programme.
The Minister revealed in line with government’s objective of addressing the problems of the sector, additional modules of the PFJ will be rolled out in 2019.
“These modules will focus on tree crop development under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme, vegetable production, livestock development under the Rearing for Food and Jobs programme and mechanization,” he stated.
Member for North Tongu constituency, Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who contributed to the statement pointed out that Ghana can only move beyond aid if premium is placed on agriculture and related sectors.
He lamented that while farmers in Europe and the Americas continue to receive massive aid from their governments, the poor Ghanaian farmer is denied such support through international trade and bilateral agreements with foreign states.
Agriculture, he said, has the capacity to transform the economy and stressed any enterprise that engages majority of Ghanaians like the agriculture sector should be given all the required support.
Hon. Ablakwa urged government to expedite processes for the Ghana Beyond Aid initiative to provide a workable blueprint for the policy and the growth of the agriculture sector.
Contributing to the statement, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, the Hon. Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, urged the Agriculture Minister to push the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) to really commit to agriculture financing.
According to him, ADB was set up to support the agricultural sector and investments in the farming business but is gradually gravitating away from the sector and restricting itself to interventions in the processing sector.
The bank, he said, can do more for the development of the sector by looking at financing of small holder and peasant farmers.
Member for Bia West Constituency, Hon. Augustine Tawiah, in his contribution urged the agriculture ministry and related agencies to research and bring out results that will emancipate farmers not only on one day celebrations but enable them make a mark in the development of the country.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org