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Business News of Monday, 17 October 2016

Source: B&FT

Oil must not drown agric sector - Economist

Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Certified Economists of Ghana (ICEG), Daniel Amateye Anim-Prempeh, has joined the call for government to pay attention to the agriculture sector, saying too much focus on oil could make the country catch the proverbial ‘Dutch Disease.’

Since the onset of oil production in 2010, there has been undue focus on the oil and gas industry much to the detriment of the agriculture sector, he told the B&FT in an interview.

He therefore called for massive investment in agriculture, which he said is the backbone of the economy. By investment, he specifically singled out agricultural machinery for investment, saying it will aid farmers increase productivity.

Agriculture in the country is rain-dependent and his call for investment covers irrigation so that farmers can produce all year-round and ensure food security which is being threatened.

“If the agricultural sector is developed, we can now link it to the industrial sector and it will create jobs along the value chain,” he said.

In other words, the focus in the country’s industrialisation drive should be agro-based industries to link agriculture to industry. This is because the country has a competitive edge in agriculture, and it would mean industrialising the country based on available resources.

Owning the industrialisation process, he said, is key, which is why the technical universities and polytechnics can play a large role by designing appropriate technologies.

To revamp manufacturing, he believes government should take the lead and pull the private sector along, warning, however, that state owned enterprises must be run for profitability and sustainability.

In this regard, he cited the revamping of the Komenda Sugar Factory as a perfect example. In the absence of a nucleus farm to feed the industry, the factory’s sustainable functioning is compromised. People assigned to run such enterprises must not necessarily be political appointees but experts who given targets to meet, he said.

Tourism is another area that he believes is not fully tapped since it provides revenue for many successful countries. There is a need to resource the technical universities to train the hospitality sector since customer service in this part of the world is very poor, he said.

Mr Anim-Prempeh called for infrastructure, including roads, to open up the tourism sector.