General News of Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Accra, June 25, GNA - Dr Edward Nasigrie Mahama, Flagbearer of People's National Convention (PNC), on Wednesday said his Party would emphasize agricultural production and agro-based industries when voted into power in the coming elections.
He said under the slogan "Golden Age of Increased Productivity," his government would boost agricultural productivity as the sector continued to be the largest of the economy in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with over 54 per cent of the workforce engaged in agriculture and agric-related business. GDP is the total market value of goods and services produced in a country in a given year.
Dr Mahama said this at a meeting with executives of Association of Farmers and Fishermen in Accra to present his party's policies on agriculture and solicit their vote in the coming elections to give him the opportunity to lead the country.
"Agriculture employs 54 per cent of the labour force and accounts for 70 per cent of the activity of the rural population," he said, but the sector continued to show poor growth.
The low income of farmers and fishermen, he said, may be attributed to low agricultural yields or productivity and high post-harvest losses, marketing constraints and low farm-gate prices.
Citing examples, Dr Mahama said maize and rice, which were among the major crops produced in Ghana, had yields that were less than a quarter of potential yields and there could be at least four fold increase from the same land area if remedial measures were taken. "In the last 10-15 years, yield per hectare has remained the same at one ton per hectare. In contrast, over the same period yield per hectare in Malaysia for instance has increased three folds to over four tons per hectare."
He called for the involvement of the association in the formulation of agricultural policies to ensure that farmers and fishermen were able to increase production in a sustainable manner. Commenting on the global food crisis, Dr Mahama said government was shying away from discussing the issue because they had no solution to offer and added that even though the government said there was a lot of food on the market, the money in the pockets of the average worker was not enough to buy the same quantity of food as before. He said provision of premix fuel for fishermen, machinery and implements for farmers and other agricultural inputs as well as the health and well being of farmers and fishermen would be his party's great concern should he be voted into power.
Mr Charles Kobina Annan, Executive Secretary of the Association, commended Dr Mahama for recognizing the organization and telling them about his political vision for the agricultural sector. He said the association which was strictly non-political because of the large numbers of members and the diverse background, hoped that political parties would demonstrate that they understood the issues pertaining to the sector. "We want the political parties to demonstrate how they would boost agricultural production and not to tell us what they would be doing," he said, adding that the association needed resources to be able to increase productivity. He said current farmers and fishermen did not have what it took to become more efficient producers even though agriculture constituted the largest economic bloc in the country. 25 June 08