Politics of Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Source: GNA

NDC unveils policy on agricultural modernisation

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has unveiled its policy for agricultural modernization, as a bait to attract the electorates to renew its mandate for the next four years in the December 7, general election.

In its Election 2012 Manifesto, entitled: “Advancing the Better Ghana Agenda,” NDC said under the next term of President John Dramani Mahama, the party would intensify efforts to continue to make agriculture play its key role in the Ghanaian economy.

“The accelerated modernization of the agriculture sector is one of the major pillars in our economic transformation agenda, propelled by two main strategies - Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy and the corresponding investment plan as detailed in the Medium-Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan,” the NDC stated.

According to the NDC the key elements of its agricultural strategy include transformation of the sector from a resource-based to a technology-based industry and the provision of subsidies for improved seeds, grade breeders and stocks, pesticides, fertilizer, machinery and other inputs.

The party will promote selected crops for food security and exports to enhance returns, particularly for small scale farmers through equitable access to resources and services.

The NDC will facilitate high-value crops, value-added processing and agro-industrialisation and encourage and support farmers’ groups such as co-operatives, Farmer Based Organisations, nucleus-out grower schemes, block and contract farmers.

“We will promote rural industrialization through the provision of incentives for the establishment of industries that have backward linkages to our agriculture resource base.

“We will construct storage facilities including silos and cold storage units at strategic locations to minimize post-harvest losses (and) implement the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project particularly as it relates to strengthening investment promotion infrastructure, facilitating secure access to land, and securing public-private-partnerships and smallholder linkages in the Accra Plains and the savannah zone.

“We will also expand the role of the National Service Scheme (NSS) in food production programme to cover the establishment of demonstration farms across the various ecological zones.”

The NDC said the NSS demonstration farms would operate out-grower schemes under which local farmers would be taught the application of modern methods in food production.

In addition, the farms will constitute open junior farm schools for the training of school leavers in agriculture in the long-term, dormitories will be built on the farms to provide accommodation for personnel.

National Service personnel who opt to go into commercial agriculture will be provided with start-up facilities that will include land acquisition, preparation, planting material, chemicals and fertilizer.

On fisheries the party said it would introduce a Fishermen’s Life Insurance Scheme (FLIS) to cover the loss of lives of marine and inland fishermen.

The NDC explained that contributions of Government, fishermen, boat owners, fish importers and exporters would serve as premium for the FLIS.

The next NDC government will invest in sanitation and other community enhancing projects of the Landing Beach Committees and the enhancement of the operations of the Marine Police Unit of the Ghana Police Service and recruitment of 2,000 young men and women into the unit over a four- year period.

Government will provide eco-sounders to fishermen at affordable prices, construct two fishing harbours at Elmina and James Town and landing sites at Axim, Dixcove, Moree, Fete, Mumford, Winneba, Senya Beraku, Teshie, Ada, Keta, Abotoase and Dzemeni using part of the Chinese Development Bank loan.

The next Mahama Administration will complete the University of Cape Coast Fisheries College at Anomabo and introduce alternative livelihood programmes for coastal communities.

In the area of Aquaculture, the party’s track record of facilitating more than 240 per cent increase in production over the past four years, from 5,600 tons in 2008 to 19,000 tons in 2011, the next NDC Government will continue to ensure the accelerated growth of the sub-sector through the development of aquaculture infrastructure including hatcheries.

The NDC will support the expansion of cage fish farming from the Volta Lake to the Bui Lake and to other major rivers including Oti, Pra, Ankobra and Tano, and the harnessing of the fish production potential at Pwalugu.

The party will continue to provide warehousing facilities, crop financing scheme, and process at least 60 per cent of cocoa beans.

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

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

Others called for called for mechanized farming, provision of irrigation facilities and access roads.

The survey appealed to government to make farming attractive to the youth and provide storage facilities for agricultural products, and reintroduce state farms.