Politics of Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Source: GNA

NDC’s blue print for the Shea Nut industry

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) said it will invest in research and extension support towards increased output of the Shea nut industry, under the administration of President John Dramani Mahama.

The NDC in its manifesto 2012, made available to the Ghana News Agency, said with the establishment of the 40,000-ton capacity Shea nut processing plant at Buipe, the main focus of the next NDC Government would be on support services.

According to the manifesto, under the scheme, the Shea nut Development Board established in December 2011, would formulate policies and initiate activities for the sustainable growth of the industry.

The party said it would promote research into cotton for Ghana to become a market leader, increase support for cotton farmers to produce adequate quantities for the underutilized capacities in the existing cotton ginneries and by extension for the revival of the textile factories.

The manifesto said it would establish a legal framework to support the restructuring of the industry and reviving the Cotton Board to co-ordinate activities in the industry and streamline the production and marketing of cotton.

It said besides the 11,000 hectares of land that is to be irrigated in the Accra Plains with part of the funds from the China Development Bank loan, policies have been also slated for implementation, promotion of the efficient utilization of existing irrigation facilities, especially in drought prone areas, and the rehabilitation of viable irrigation infrastructure.

The manifesto said the next NDC government would develop appropriate, affordable irrigation schemes, dams, boreholes and other water harvesting techniques for different categories of farmers and ecological zones and the irrigation of 150,000 hectares of land under the Pwalugu multi-purpose hydroelectric scheme.

It said in the field of agricultural mechanization, the NDC guaranteed a remarkable increase in equipment and machinery to support the agriculture sector through the import of combined harvesters, maize harvesters, tractors and grains-cotton storage facilities.

The NDC said the creation of 77 new Agricultural Mechanization Service Centres will constitute the foundation on which a next NDC Government would build the new initiatives in the sub-sector.

The manifesto said the initiatives include expansion of the Agricultural Mechanization Service Centres to cover the remaining old districts as well as the new districts, and collaboration with the private sector to build the capacity of individuals and companies to produce or assemble farm equipment.

The party said under the leadership of President Mahama, the NDC government would continue to promote the production and use of small multi-purpose machinery along the value chain.

Government would facilitate the provision of farm level storage facilities, appropriate agro-processing machinery, equipment and intermediate means of transport, establishment of hire purchase or lease schemes with backup spare parts for all machinery and equipment.

According to the NDC, its main policy focus would be on averting the frequent violent clashes between nomadic herdsmen and food crop peasant farmers through the creation of fodder banks.

The manifesto said an NDC-led government would replicate the 245 hectare fodder bank to be established at Wawase in the Kwahu North District in other parts of the country.

It explained that NDC-led government would also initiate a scheme for the importation of cattle from neighbouring countries, particularly those in the Sahel region, to support the sustainable development of the livestock sub-sector.

The manifesto outlined other targets, including support for the large scale breeding and production of guinea fowls to boost the poultry industry, the supply of improved goats, sheep and pigs to farmers as breeding stock and the launch of a national campaign on the production of grass cutters and rabbits.

The NDC would target increases of maize and soya beans over the next four years, which would substantially benefit poultry production as excess over human requirements will be used in poultry feed.

The Private sector would also be encouraged to invest in poultry to enable the leverage of funding for the procurement of poultry and piggery infrastructure, equipment and other facilities including slaughtering and packaging.

The next NDC government would also provide Veterinary Health Support and extension services to farmers, support for private sector enterprises in animal feed formulation as well as hatcheries and the sensitization of the various poultry and livestock associations to actively take advantage of the above programmes.

The next NDC would promulgate the Plants and Fertilizer Act, 2010, Act 803, which regulates, monitors and ensures the use of quality seeds.

The manifesto said: “Our policy actions would be to support the development and introduction of climate- change resilient, high-yielding, disease and pest-resistant and short duration seed varieties, taking into account consumer health and safety.

“The NDC plans to build the capacity to develop more breeders and support the production of certified seeds and improved planting materials for both staples and industrial crops.

“The NDC said following the amendment of the EDIF law and the passage of the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund Act, the tight spigot on the flow of funds to the agriculture sector has been loosened and with more resources available for channeling into agriculture financing, the NDC Government will provide the framework to ensure adequate flow of funds to the agriculture sector”.

The manifesto said the party would accelerate the provision of farming and fishing inputs, agriculture-related infrastructure services and provide incentives for the Youth-in-Agriculture programme to become more commercially oriented as agriculture would be made more profitable.

The next NDC government would provide selective subsidies for the procurement of improved technologies for poor farmers and women; initiate a pension scheme for farmers as well as an Agriculture Insurance Scheme to cover agriculture risks.

“We would target the implementation of the recommendation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) for a minimum of 10 per cent of discretionary budget to be committed to strategic areas to improve agriculture production and productivity.

“The NDC Government would improve the effectiveness of the Research-Extension to Farmer linkages and integrate the concept into the agricultural research system to increase participation of end-users in technology development.

“We will also put emphasis on the use of extension methods such as farmer field schools, nucleus-farmer-out-growers and extension fields in the districts through mass education. We will also formulate an agriculture education syllabus that promotes agriculture as a business,” the NDC stated.

The manifesto said this is to quicken the pace towards full domestic food security, increased agricultural exports, improvement in farm incomes, production of raw materials for value addition through processing, generation of employment and alleviation of poverty.

The NDC said its next agricultural policy directive is based on its achievement through deliberate programmes implemented during the first term of the NDC (2009-2012) consistent with the promises made in the 2008 Manifesto.

According to the NDC, some of the major successes achieved include Ghana becoming self-sufficient in food production in 2010 and 2011, as total food production exceeded national demand and the domestication of maize production recording surpluses in 2010 and 2011 in spite of adverse weather conditions in 2011;

It stated that rice output doubled from the 2008 level in 2011 resulting in a corresponding 50 per cent reduction in rice imports and cocoa production exceeded one million tons for the first time in 2010/2011.

According to the NDC cotton production, which had reduced substantially to less than 1000 tons in 2008, increased ten-fold.

The party claimed that total fish production, including marine fisheries saw substantial increases due to the NDC Government’s support to subsidized premix fuel, outboard motors and technical backstopping to artisanal fishermen and through deliberate policies to promote aquaculture.

The NDC noted that agricultural productivity generally increased through uptake of fertilizers by farmers, the use of agrochemicals, pesticides and improved planting materials, with Ghana achieving the lowest annual food price inflation over a twenty- year period in 2011.

Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by the National Commission for Civic Education titled “Election 2012: matters of concern to the Ghanaian voter” obtained by the GNA, revealed that 48.2 per cent of respondent suggested that the government should subsidize agriculture inputs.

Another 21.1 per cent said government must give financial support to farmers in a form of loans and scholarships for children of farmers to enable them to continue their education to the highest level whilst 8.1 per cent called on government to provide market for farmers and also fix prices of agriculture crops.

About 7.3 per cent respondent called for mechanized farming, 5.3 per cent appealed for the provision of the irrigation and access roads by government, 4.6 per cent wanted government to make farming attractive to the youth, 4.1 per cent called for the provision of storage facilities for agricultural products, whilst 1.3 per cent suggested the reintroduction of state farms by government.