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General News of Monday, 25 July 2016

Source: citifmonline.com

Government commitment to agric only rhetoric - Afriyie Akoto


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The Minority Spokesperson on Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has in reaction to the Finance Minister, Seth Terkper’s presentation of the mid-year supplementary budget to Parliament, chided government for not showing enough commitment to the agric sector.

“When it comes to rhetoric, they are 100 percent; but when it comes to actually committing public resources, very little,” Dr. Afriyie Akoto told Citi Business News.

2.8 percent sector growth poor

The presentation revealed a 2.8 percent growth in the agriculture sector, and Dr. Afriyie Akoto noted that, the revised figure for growth in the sector at 2.8 percent, is a significant rise from the initial 0.04 percent, but still poor.

“2.8 in the scheme of things is very disappointing because the Maputo target for African countries is 6 percent growth per year of agriculture, and that has been met only once since this government came into office 8 years ago.”

“The fact of the matter is that, the rate of growth of agriculture has been declining year by year, and yet it is still the biggest in terms of employment generation, and in terms of the involvement of our people in economic activity,” he added.

Gov’t not doing enough for farmers

Dr. Afriyie Akoto further decried the lack of government support for the agric sector, as evidenced by the last two budget statements.

“Our food import bill is going through the roof” he noted, adding that research showed that in 2016, Ghana “imported 2.1 billion dollars of food into the country, for only 8 food items namely rice , fish, poultry and cooking oil among others, which are basic items our farmers can produce.”

Mr. Terkper indicated in his presentation that Government was implementing a fertilizer subsidy program to ensure food security and that so far, 90,000 metric tonnes have been distributed to farmers.

But Dr. Afriyie Akoto contends that these claims are mere rhetoric, as the interventions are not reflecting on the ground.

“They are not doing enough for the farmer in terms of public resource investment into the sector, they are not protecting the farmer in terms of giving him or her a minimum price except for cocoa… agriculture is totally left on its own,” he asserted.

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