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STATESMAN OPINION : Restoring our national pride

Politics

“It is a national scandal that we have to import plantain from Abidjan, tomatoes from Burkina Faso. And that we cannot in Ghana feed ourselves,” The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, recently poured out these sentiments at a private dinner held in honour of the Minister of Agriculture, Owusu Afriyie Akoto.

“It is a national scandal that we have to import plantain from Abidjan, tomatoes from Burkina Faso. And that we cannot in Ghana feed ourselves,” The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, recently poured out these sentiments at a private dinner held in honour of the Minister of Agriculture, Owusu Afriyie Akoto.

 

The Daily Statesman cannot but only share in the sentiments of the President. Indeed, it is a monumental shame. Certainly, it is ironical that our country which supposedly has agriculture as the backbone of its economy would be importing foodstuffs from neighbouring countries to supplement our national requirements, thereby providing markets for the agriculture produce of those nations as well as boosting their economies.

Previously, the country was a net exporter of food items but now it is net importer of food items that can easily be produced in the country which is plentifully blessed with arable lands. The shame is made worse by the fact that some of these importations are from near-desert countries. How paradoxical! This is so odd.

Most daily consumables, including tomatoes, plantains, carrot, ginger, garden eggs, okro, cabbage, garlic, onions, and ‘kontomire’, and even toothpick among others, are now imported into the country for consumption by the citizenry. 

Ghana now imports from Liberia and Cote d’ivoire,  ‘Sokodua,’ – the  tiny pieces of sticks that serve either as supplement or replacement for your toothpaste and toothbrush. The country also imports tomatoes from Burkina Faso; plantain from Cote d'Ivoire; onions from Niger; cabbage, carrot, ginger and Kontomire from Togo. This is in addition to host of others which are imported from other African countries as well as from Europe and Asia.

It is pathetic to note that not only can these food crops be abundantly produced here by our hardworking farmers, but also, hitherto these neighbouring countries used to import from Ghana. This disreputable phenomenon of importing foods from other countries, an indication that we cannot grow enough to feed ourselves, got worsened in the last eight years as a result of the incompetence of the erstwhile government t of the National Democratic Congress whose bad policies virtually relegated agriculture to the background.

Fortunately, the New Patriotic Party came to power with the promise to revamp agriculture as one of its priorities, in order to reverse this appalling food importation trend. Consequently, without wasting time, it has started in earnest to deliver on the pledge as evidenced by the “Planting For Food and Jobs” programme which has started rolling even though it is yet to be officially launched by the President on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Meanwhile, we are delighted by the announcement on Friday, by the Agricultural Minister that the government was expected to spend GHC270 million in this year’s National Fertilizer Subsidy Programmes. The amount represents almost 50% price cut for beneficiary farmers in both organic and inorganic fertilizers.

It is important to note that the package is in addition to the one rolled out under the “Planting For Food and Jobs” campaign , which will also involve the distribution of 150,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers to about 200,000 selected farmers under the programme.

We are of the firm belief that these packages are certainly among the most effective and surest ways to ensure that the country meets its food requirements sufficiently and also export to other countries to boost the economy.   

We are certain with these agricultural programmes being rolled out by the NPP government, the scandalous food importation trend will be reversed in order to restore the battered national reputation of the country as far as food sufficiency and security are concerned.