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Politics of Saturday, 2 July 2016


I'll invest in manufacturing and agricultural sector - Greenstreet

The Presidential Candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Ivor Greenstreet, has chided the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) over their failure to explore the agricultural potentials of the country, after he claimed his party has unearthed the cultivation of the Indian Almond tree, a profitable venture to turn the fortunes of the country around.

He said this to augment his party’s resolve to invest heavily in the manufacturing and agricultural sector due to the potential they had to create jobs.

Mr Greenstreet, during his evening’s encounter with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra on Tuesday, strengthened the relevance of the cash crop when he made reference to California which, he said, produced about 80% of the world’s supply and earned income running into billions of dollars.

The wheelchair-bound politician mentioned one Nana Kwesi Abura, who he introduced as Ghana’s foremost Almond tree expert for the past 15 years, as the brain behind the identification of the crop as an enviable foreign exchange earner, which could provide employment for thousands of Ghanaians.

Almond has a short growing period and a very good yield, he stated, as he pegged its yield at approximately 3550 kilograms per hectare and fruit bearing in 2 and a half years.

“Harvesting and processing is easy and cheap and rainfall requirements are minimal meaning it can be grown practically anywhere in the country,” he added.

This was not without the price of the oil got from the cash crop, which he asserted, went on the international market for 10,000 US dollars per ton.

CPP Flag bearer said he would take advantage of the millions of hectares of land currently lying fallow and “mobilize 2 million youth to plant 32 trees per person in an 8-hour work-day or 1,280 million trees in 20 days at 175 trees per hectare meaning that, a total area equivalent to 7,314,285.7 hectares would be planted giving us almost 26 million tons for the whole area.”

Apart from the cultivation of the Indian Almond tree which the party’s research showed could generate over 300 billion dollars, the legal practitioner roped in the growing bast-fibre to produce jute sacks to save 300 million US dollars otherwise paid to other countries.

“The ingenuity of Ghanaians, with or without Government, has proven that we are capable of developing many valuable niche markets.

“Today in beauty products, high quality Ghanaian shea is available in small quantities. But both NPP and NDC have misgoverned our niche markets like shea, cashew, bamboo and others,” he charged.

The cultivation of palm kennel was not left out. Cracking nuts and toasting kernels as well as extracting and processing the oil, he hinted, would employ 500,000 people, as well as generate multiple research institutes to support the programmes.

“Financing of this program would be made available from different local and international sources and it will be an incentive based scheme based on an out-grower system,” he stated.

On education, Mr. Greenstreet was of the view the system needed fundamental changes as he debunked earlier debates by the NDC and the NPP in that area, saying:

“The debate between the NDC and the NPP about duration, free, cost and classrooms is the least of the problems bothering Ghana’s educational system. Those are cosmetic changes.”

He emphasised the fact that what the country needed in its educational system at the moment was a seismic curricular shift and re-direction. “The fundamental structure of our education, in terms of what we teach and how we are teaching it must change to make it 21st century-relevant. We must teach skills.

“After all the essence of education is to give the citizens basic skills and values that will enable them lead decent lives. We shall ensure those educated are linked to all facets of our economic and social life,” he remarked.

The politician also touched on health, where he said his party would continue to support and enhance the NHIS and look at innovative ways to increase funds made available.

The CPP-led government he said would ensure that politicians aren’t able to meddle with NHIS and that health professionals run the scheme and professional managers of money run the fund.

“In maternal health, we will try and improve access to care when in labour, because although there is antenatal care many pregnant women are not receiving treatment in time when in labour,” he revealed.

“Doctors have to pay for their postgraduate studies whilst still working causing many to leave to go abroad leaving gaps in our health care system.

“The CPP shall make such post graduate education for doctors free, as is the case in many countries that are serious about retaining their health professionals,” he remarked. He further assured the disabled of a treatment they could ever have imagined.

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