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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Ghana's Citrus Farming is in Agonized Death Throes

. Is there anySaviour out there?

Farming in Africa in general and Ghana in particular, is left at the mercy of what the scientists call Nature with all its attendant ravages. As if this was not sufficient, intentional, dismal atypical behaviour of our politicians who care only about themselves does compound the woes of the Ghanaian farmer especially, the citrus farmer. For how long will the Ghanaian be reminded of the fact that without sufficient food in the stomach the entire human body gets flaccid? This is enough to tell that a country without self or near self-sufficiency in food production will forever remain at the mercy of others suffering untold mistreatment. It will be kicked in and out of the periphery of economic development at the whims and caprices of the developed world. Oh, what a flabby self-pity! This has almost always been the situation of Ghana, my motherland. Oh, cry my beloved country.

Farming is the backbone of every developing economy. Even the developed countries with enhanced economies made possible through industrialisation still ensure they have strong agricultural base to ensure the food safety for not only their citizens but also for export. Without enough food to feed a nation, its citizens will forever remain slaves of some sort to the donor nations. This is evident in the life of Ghana as a nation. Regardless of the warped presumptions to the contrary of many so-called modern Ghanaians who get edgy, feeling belittled when told the truth as it is, let it be known to them that without practical assurance of food security, Africa will forever remain the subordinates of the White contemporaries. For how long shall we by our twisted actions and deplorable nonchalance or inactions relegate ourselves to the status of mentally, physically and psychologically shackled slaves without realising? Devoid of strong food production base, a country and a people are miserably left at the mercy of fate, disturbing God in supplications for manna to drop from the Great Heavens in this day and age. Will the manna fall from the skies as it was in the days of Moses? NO! We then need to get our facts right as rational human beings without acting nincompoops.

Ghanaians should do whatever is reasonably possible to bring about food sufficiency to the nation. This is the more reason why I am dismayed at the present plight of the citrus farmers made worse by a government policy. Do the government of Ghana know of only one effective solution to dealing with whatever deteriorated into banishing the Burkinabe, formerly the citizens of Ouagadougou, from proceeding to Ghana to purchase ripe oranges? The only source of external trade supplementing the local market that gave encouragement to many to go into citrus farming had been abruptly cut by the NPP government. Was it due to weakness in intellectualism in exploring alternative solutions? Those suffering as a result of the worst government's agricultural policy are the Ghanaian farmers especially, the citrus farmers. Until when will I continue to castigate these corrupt, non visionary politicians without offering useful suggestions and solutions?

I suggest as following:

* The NDC government should reverse with immediate effect the ban placed on the citizens of Burkina Faso from coming into Ghana to buy oranges. Our oranges are going rotten on the trees without the possibility of ever finding buyers as the internal market is over saturated with the product. An alternative solution to whichever problem led to the institution of such banishment should be found, for the sake of the farmers who are presently compelled to suffer huge financial losses.

* Almost all citrus farmers should come together to form a National Citrus Farmers Association to explore the ways forward - purchasing, conservation and marketing strategies. This should not in any way be viewed as the farmers having failed to plan well before plunging themselves headlong into farming. As my senior brother John Kyei Boateng, resident in Canada always keeps telling me, "If you don't succeed in your enterprise, never say that your Business Plan has failed but you failed to plan properly". Do we need to plan not to overproduce food in a country noted for being perpetually confronted with food scarcity no matter what we do? No way!

* An invitation is sent out through this article to whoever can assist in setting up a Home page for the Ghanaian farmers where our views and concerns can be discussed in an effort to sensitize the farmers to their rights and how best to reap the benefits of their sweat and toil. Some Ghanaian farmers who reside abroad have expressed interest in sponsoring such a Home page if there can be one. Is there anyone out there with any idea to help in this direction?

* Local, District, Regional and National forums (fora) for Ghanaian farmers be organized where their plights, anticipation and other related matters can be discussed in an attempt to secure better solutions to the nation's agricultural headaches by ensuring the prosperity of the now poor farmers.

* Those Ghanaians resident abroad but have gone into farming in Ghana should please endeavour through cooperation among themselves, set up processing factories to turn our oranges into preservable juice, our cereals into semolina (semoule) etc. to avoid the products going rotten within that short harvest period of great abundance.

* Out of desperation, should I resort to the moronic attitude of the Ghanaian always inviting the foreigners especially the superior White contemporaries, to come to set up processing industries for us? Why not, if that can be a means to the solution of the diverse monstrous problems confronting the Ghanaian farmers and Ghana as a nation with food shortages? However, I would prefer Ghanaians themselves pulling resources together to establish such a factory. But I will welcome any foreigner with the means to establishing a factory to alleviate the farmers of their greatest worry of finding a buyer for their produce.

* A petition is to be presented to the Minister of Agriculture highlighting the inextricable problems the Ghanaian farmer, especially the citrus farmer, faces partly due to the indexterity of a government policy.

* There should rather be a government subsidy on farming equipment/implements which will benefit almost all farmers than the current stupid "National Farmers Holiday" which benefits only non farming employees.

* Is it common sense or pure stupidity on the part of the government to lure the youth into farming when those already into it are desperate to exit the profession out of frustration of not getting any benefit for their sweat and toil as it is the case with the citrus farmers?

* If the government can set up an industry each capable of processing our citrus fruits and cereals, most of the Ghanaian farmers resident abroad are ready to pay for their cost with the passage of time as per information reaching me.

* The money the African politicians in general and the Ghanaian politicians in particular, do embezzle as it is often the case, should rather be channelled into food production, preservation and storage to help reduce our beggar dependency on the Whites for food.

* If you are a Ghanaian farmer, don't suffer alone in silence but join any of the farmers associations about to be formed to agitate for our rights by initiating and enforcing useful policies.

* Let us lobby our MPs to carry our noble request to the government by debating it on the floor of parliament.

I pray all well-wishers will rally behind me to win this battle of liberation for the Ghanaian farmers as has been embarked on. The path is long and tortuous but with your support and selfless encouragement, we shall emerge victorious to bring smile to the faces of many farmers and mother Ghana for the first time ever.

Thank you for your cooperation and useful comments. Ghana needs to move forward in the right direction by getting the right policies in place. I am doing my bit. You are to do your bit by forwarding this article to as many people as you can.

IT IS NOW OR NEVER AS "TIME AND TIDE WAIT FOR NO MAN"

You can contact me at rcksnadofo@yahoo.com

Rockson Adofo, London