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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 June 2005

Columnist: Armah, Stephen E.

Borrowed Time: Ghana?s Growth Will Disappear If We Do not Act Now

?A stitch in time saves nine?, as colloquial as the above expression sounds, it drives home my basic point: Ghana should invest now into cocoa storage techniques, agricultural technology, agricultural economics education and agribusiness training because the Ghanaian economy is currently strong primarily due to the market share that its warring neighbor has relinquished. Don?t get me wrong, I am not gloating over my neighbor?s bad fortune, nor am I saying cocoa farmers are the only workers contributing to the nation?s GDP. What I am suggesting is that as our cocoa exports increase, more dollars flow into Ghana, which helps us to pay or foreign debt, augments our current account position and stabilizes the cedi.

Needless to say, after the heady inflation of the Rawlings era, we Ghanaians can appreciate stable prices, but the truth is that the current rigidity in the exchange rate and local commodity prices is by no means an achievement of the Kuffour administration. It was pure luck, good Karma on our path because the once stable Cote D?Ivoire, that had a strangle hold on the cocoa industry happened to deteriorate into chaos enabling us to sell more of our cocoa. The pertinent question to pose then is should we not do what we can now to keep the good times rolling? Of course we should. Even as far back as the 1950?s Nkrumah made research into cocoa plant diseases, and varieties a national priority. We should carry on his exploits by making research into the storage of cocoa beans a premium so we can keep our cocoa for a longer time and take advantage of cocoa price fluctuations. More of the cocoa revenue coming in now should be diverted to the universities involved in cocoa research to improve the training of agricultural extension officers, agricultural scientists and agricultural economists that assist our farmers to produce and market quality Ghanaian cocoa. This will go a long way to help consolidate Ghana?s current pole position in the cocoa industry. I am not interested in pointing fingers at any one; I just want the good times to roll on?..

Stephen E Armah
BS.E, MA, ABD Economist Economy. COM West Chester, PA.

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