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Feature Article of Saturday, 27 October 2012

Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea

Agriculture Is The Number One Choice of Voters...

Or at least, it ought to be...

Feature Article, by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro

If we take electoral manifestos as exams that political parties write in order to be marked by their masters, who are the Ghanaian voters, Agriculture would carry 60% of the total grade. This is so, not only because, effectively moving Ghana forward crucially depend on our Agriculture and agro-industrial production policies, but over 60% of our population depend directly on it for their daily survival. It is the safety net for the poorest of the poor in our country. Agriculture singularly through the Cocoa Marketing Board, not only built all the hundreds of secondary schools, Universities, Teacher Training Colleges, Salaries and emoluments, CMB scholarships, and everything we know about free education. So it makes a lot of sense, that if you really want free education, the first thing you need to do is to take your agriculture seriously. The positive ramifications of its multiplier effects in every sector of the Ghanaian society cannot be overstated.

Thus for me, whilst I strongly support the Free Education policy enshrined in our constitution, governing a country takes more brains than brawn and empty sloganeering. What is the point in starving other crucial sectors of the economy from vital resources in the name of free education, when we can achieve this without effort when we push on Agriculture as the fulcrum? Akufo-Addo is seeing things upside down and has got his educational policy standing on the head with its feet up in the air! There is nothing to be proud of this mischief purely aimed at fooling those they can fool, including themselves!

The discerning electorate who are seeing through this empty charade which makes no economic sense in terms of what the consequences would be on the other sectors of an economy, with limited resources being pumped into free education, without any discussion of quality, content, and issues of accessibility. I have already had the occasion to write on Akufo-Addo's free education when he disgraced himself to the whole world, the kind of charlatan that he is:

Transcript of BBC's HARDtalk, by the Odikro: Nana Akufo Addo 05 March, 2012 from the 19.59th minute to 20.33:

PRESENTER: The greatest indictment, frankly, of your government, is the way in which you squandered money and left this huge hole in the budget deficit and I think you would now acknowledge that that was a profound problem the last time your party was in power?
NANA AKUFO-ADDO: No, I don't believe... I don't believe... I think that... No, I don't accept this proposition at all.

PRESENTER: I think what the Ghanaian people, it seems to me, from reading a lot of stuff from the Ghanaian press, want to know is, where exactly is the money going to come from next time around if you are in power, for some of the very extravagant promises you've made? You for example have offered free secondary schooling for all Ghanaians. A promise you say you would absolutely deliver in your four years in power?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: Absolutely! Absolutely! Absolutely.

PRESENTER: So have you costed it? How much will it cost?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: The costing... the costing... is being... is being done. I mean very very soon will be in the position.

PRESENTER: No, you must have costed it! You can't make a promise like that without costing it?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: No, no, no, very, very soon we are going to be...

PRESENTER: How much?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: Very, very soon, we are going to be... put it together. I prefer..." See: On Education, Is Akufo-Addo Doing A 419? Part One - ModernGhana.com http://www.modernghana.com/news/384819/1/on-education-is-akufo-addo-doing-a-419-part-one.html Up till now we are yet to hear an exact figure from the NPP! They have not figured it out, as per the correction recently posted by the Danquah Institute!

So, on Education, whatever weight one gives to it in terms of grading, from 10 - 60%, the NPP scores zero! On Agriculture, what the NPP really scores is worse than a mere zero! It is like a student writing his or her confessions of a crime. What the teacher needs to do is not to award a zero only, but a moral and legal obligation to call the police because of the gargantuan nature of the crime. One issue that they need to be taken on very strongly is the party's Manifesto 2012 and what it says about Agriculture. You do not need to read the entire manifesto to take a high profile action on this particular issue. There is a threat at this day and age by the NPP to inundate the four bread basket regions of Ghana with genetically modified crops. This is a clear sign that they are either "useful idiots" or they do not have the fate of Ghanaians at heart.

As a petition calling for the dismantling of Monsanto explains:

"Why this is important: Monsanto's pesticides kill bees, disrupt ecosystems, pollute rivers and groundwater and are the source of a number of cancers and malformations. It has been scientifically proven (see photo) that GMOs are responsible for the development of cancer." It has been proven time and again that agro-ecological methods of agriculture provide the appropriate tools to resist the climate change and the severe weather conditions associated with it. These methods require the use of manure and other readily available organic materials instead of dependence of imported fertilizers, improved seeds, pesticides, and other toxic compounds which are invariably capital intensive, socially exclusive, environmentally degrading, and corporate dominated model of agriculture.

The Petition is no doubt, referring to the recent publication of the first peer-reviewed long term study of the toxicity of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and a Roundup tolerant genetically modified maize, which shows that corn from Monsanto's improved seeds causes tumours, organ damage, and pre-mature death! That is why this is a big deal! Naturally, we have already asked the NPP "to clarify the nature of the agricultural mandate they plan to execute, if voted into power, as stated in their Manifesto for Election 2012, Chapter Three: Section 7. Modernizing Our Agriculture and Ensuring Food Security." The claims in its 2012 Manifesto, as their plans for Ghana’s agriculture must ring alarm bells: NPP's "Improved seeds" allow neo-colonial takeover of Ghana's agriculture! Is the NPP asking for the mandate of Ghanaians to introduce Genetically Modified seeds into our food chain? That is the question!

Here is an excerpt from the relevant section in their Manifesto 2012, Chapter Three: Section 7. Modernizing Our Agriculture and Ensuring Food Security:

“Agriculture is considered to be an anchor of Ghana’s economy, and is estimated to creating value of approximately 14.2 billion dollars (roughly 23.9% of the 20141 GDP) and employs approximately, 4.6 million 56% of the workforce. However, the sector lacks sophistication and is dominated by subsistence farmers. Approximatively, three million small-holder farmers with average far sizes between 0,5-2 hectares currently produce 95% of the country's food crops. Further, as indicated by the Ministry of Agriculture and AGRA. Ghana faces increasing food security challenges in the near future. This is due to the pervasively fragmented value chain, inefficiency, and obsolete farming techniques and equipment in the sector.

Our total agricultural land is 13.6 million hectares, however only 7.3 million hectares are under cultivation with less than 35, 000 under irrigation as at 2010.

Modernizing agriculture is fundamental to our programme of transformation and Ghana needs a breakthrough in agriculture to achieve self-sufficiency in in our food supply, particularly in grains, fish, and meat. Currently, we are only achieving 30% of our rice needs for example, while we have the potential to be 75% self-sufficient. Our farmers are significantly strained by a number of transversal interventions such as expensive and unavailable inputs, poor infrastructure, expensive financing, obsolete techniques and equipment and poor policy support. For example fertilizer usage in Ghana is only eight kilograms per hectare as compared to 20 kilograms per hectare in Asia. Less than 50% of farmers use fertilizers and when available, it is at high cost. Improved seeds are generally not available and are also at a high cost. Farm roads are bad and credit is too expensive when available."
[See: Full Document]: NPP launches 2012 Manifesto | General News › 2012-08-29. For those unaware of the significance of the words “improved seeds” and “AGRA” on the same page talking about the “modernization of agriculture”, you could be excused if that does not raise an alarm.

AGRA means "Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)", - "a widely hailed U.S. philanthropic effort backed by major foundations, has pushed the promotion of a technology-based agricultural revolution to the forefront of policy debate for the continent. Launched in September 2006 as a joint initiative between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AGRA expands on the Rockefeller Foundation’s Green Revolution in Africa Initiative. Founded with an initial commitment of $100 million from the Gates Foundation and another $50 million from the Rockefeller Foundation, today AGRA is the biggest grantee of the Gates Foundation. With over $262 million committed, AGRA is poised to become one of the main institutional vehicles for changing African agriculture."

It has been noted that “The appointment of key staff at the Gates Foundation is also indicative of the direction that AGRA intends to steer agriculture in Africa. In 2006, the Gates Foundation appointed Dr. Robert Horsch as the Senior Program Officer in the Global Development Program, which directly supervises the AGRA initiative. Horsch came to the foundation after 25 years on the staff of the Monsanto Corporation, one of the world’s biggest biotechnology multinationals and one of the most aggressive promoters of GM crops. At Monsanto, Horsch was the Vice-President for Product and Technology Cooperation, later Vice-President for International Development Partnership, and also a member of the team that developed Monsanto’s YieldGard, Boll-Gard, and RoundUp Ready technologies." Furthermore, it has to be clear to all that we must not only depend upon the good reputation of Mr. Kofi Annan alone in making life and death decisions of far reaching consequences. Indeed, as commented upon at the time by Voices From Africa:

"The appointment of Kofi Annan as AGRA’s chairman was a strategic decision that the Gates Foundation made to silence criticisms that its agricultural development agenda was a “White Man’s Dream for Africa.” In fact, this more reeks of Monsanto’s campaign: “Let the Harvest Begin.” Launched in 1998 to gain acceptance of GE crops around the world by projecting the benefits of the Green Revolution in Asia and its potential in Africa, Monsanto’s campaign managed to draw several respected African leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, to speak for a new Green Revolution in Africa. In response, all of the African delegates (except South Africa) to the UN Food and Agriculture Negotiations on the International Undertaking for Plant Genetic Resources in June 1998 issued a counter statement, “Let Nature’s Harvest Continue.” The delegates clearly stated their objection to multinational companies’ use of the image of the poor and hungry from African countries to push technology that is not safe, environmentally friendly, or economically beneficial." Voices From Africa: African Farmers & Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution in Africa.

In "Why is Kofi Annan Fronting For Monsanto? The GMO Assault On Africa", Crossed Crocodiles writes: "Kofi Annan has joined with President Obama, Monsanto, AGRA, and the Gates foundation to promote and execute food aid that replaces bags of wheat, rice and corn (agricultural dumping) with bags of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds. The end result will be to starve people in Africa and feed corporations in the US and Europe." The NPP as a political party is vulnerable to all sorts of external influences which often do not coincide with our national interests as a people. Here, in our humble opinion, is the most serious threat they have ever posed to the good people of Ghana.

This is a matter that must concern everyone who eats food! This is an issue of life and death of Ghanaians in their thousands and millions from generation unto generation! If people are unaware, there is new evidence that so-called "improved seeds" or GM seeds from Monsanto "Cause Tumors, Organ Damage, and Premature Death in Rats"! Only a few weeks ago, on the 21st of September, 2012, the European Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, to look into a study which found that corn from Monsanto's improved seeds causes tumors, organ damage, and premature death.

This is going on at a time the NPP is busily telling Ghanaians to embrace the so-called "improved seeds" from the Frankenstein food industry. Only yesterday, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that the High Council for Biotechnology (HCB) and the Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety have been asked to look into the study, headed by Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen and published by Food and Chemical Toxicology this week. If the results are confirmed, Ayrault said at a meeting in Dijon, agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll would defend France's right within the European Union to ban GM crops. Three committees in France's National Assembly will invite Séralini for hearings, Le Figaro reported recently. The news coming in says "Russia has temporarily suspended the import and sales of Monsanto Co. (MON)’s genetically-modified NK 603 corn until the country gets further information on the safety of the products, the consumer safety watchdog said.

The watchdog, known as Rospotrebnadzor, asked scientists at Russia’s Institute of Nutrition to review a French study, which raised questions about the long-term effect of St. Louis-based Monsanto’s NK 603 corn on rats, according to a statement on Rospotrebnadzor’s website yesterday. Please see: Russia Suspends Import of Monsanto Corn on Health Concerns. What do you say to the NPP which is seeking the mandate of Ghanaians to inundate our breadbaskets in all the four regions with GM crops and food? Please consult the New Patriotic Party NPP Manifesto for Election 2012, Chapter Three: Section 7. Modernizing Our Agriculture and Ensuring Food Security: [Full Document]: NPP launches 2012 Manifesto | General News › 2012-08-29.

What can explain this strange behaviour of the NPP? Has this got something to do with the secret meeting held at the at the Hotel Hyatt & Resorts, located on 24 M Streets, Nw, Washington, DC 20037 on Wednesday, June 4, 2008, arranged by The Whitaker Group, whilst Akufo-Addo was supposedly on a fund-raising tour in the United States? My suspicions that Monsanto, Du Pont, Star Bucks, and a host of multinational corporations, including all the ugly faces of American capitalism, were invited were confirmed by the denial statement by Dr. Arthur Kennedy the then Chairman of the Akufo-Addo Communications Committee, that no money had changed hands:

“Regarding the Whitaker Group event, no mention was made by either Nana Akufo-Addo or the organisers or any member of the delegation of finances for the campaign. Indeed the campaign is fully aware of the laws of Ghana regarding soliciting funds from non-Ghanaians for political purposes.

The group was made up of people with substantial investments in Ghana and also of others who have an interest in investing in Ghana. The meeting was therefore to afford Nana Akufo-Addo the opportunity to explain his vision of transforming the Ghanaian economy and creating a modern society. That was just what happened at the meeting.”
See: General News of Sunday, 8 June 2008, Rejoinder to Enquirer Story On Akufo-Addo's Trip: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=145004 So why was the meeting a secret, if it was not meant to rip us off?

Is this manifesto a proof of the “mutually beneficial co-operation” between the NPP flag-bearer and Monsanto?

Forward Ever! Backwards Never! Long live Ghana!

Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.
Give me a follow on twitter: twitter.com/TheOdikro

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