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Regional News of Friday, 15 April 2005

Source: GNA

GAWU holds farmers' forum

Accra, April 15, GNA - Mr. Samuel Kangah, General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers' Union (GAWU), on Friday said while developed countries got richer, developing ones became poorer due to unfair trade policies.

He said developing countries such as Ghana were losing out in terms of employment, incomes, and opportunities for development, food security thus increasing poverty.

Mr. Kangah, who was speaking at a Farmers' forum organized by the union in collaboration with BUSAC Fund to educate members on the issue said, "enforced free trade policies and economic liberalization are central to this continuing scandal".

The forum under the theme; " Impact of Global Trade on the Livelihood on Ghanaian Farmers" was to commemorate the Global Week of Action.

This is the first time Ghana participated in the event, which allowed citizens around the world to assert their legitimate human rights and interests to shape the actions of states and firms in trade more especially, agricultural trade.

The General Secretary explained that the forum was to foster greater interest and engagement on global food issues to motivate participants to have better understanding of globalisation and its effects on workers and consumers in third world countries. "Our resolution and commitment as a trade union representing the suppressed and oppressed farmers in our country is to do everything possible to resist injustice and inequity in the global trade regime," he said.

Mr Kangah said they would also do everything to ensure that fairness, equality and cooperation become the basis of global trade. He said it was startling to realize that international trade rules rob poor countries of 1.3 billion pounds sterling a day equivalent to 14 times what they get in aid and called for concerted efforts to fight these bad policies.

"Today, we are mobilizing equal pressures from the true owners of this country to oppose the pressure and the ruthless economic policies coming from the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO," he added.

Professor Takyiwah Manu, Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, said considering the care that America and European farmers get from their various governments, it was glaring that the odds were against their developing counterparts. She said while subsidies were removed from farm inputs in developing countries, a farmer in America and in Europe received a subsidy of 29,000 dollars (270 million cedis) per annum.

Prof Takyiwah Manu said the myth that Africa was not developing because the people were not hardworking was simply not true but these bad trade practices were pulling African countries down.

Dr Irene S. Egyir, Lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Ghana, Legon, mentioned low supply of consumer preferred products by Ghanaian farmers, low comparative advantages and economic integration as factors against the country's trade.

She stressed the need for the citizenry to put pressure on governments not to "kowtow to these bad practices believing that there are no other alternatives."