Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has described as “desperate scaremongering” the claims by former President John Mahama that Ghana faces imminent food shortage.
In an interview with Moonlite FM on September 8, the 2020 flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) claimed that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) was started by his government but has failed under the current administration.
However, a statement issued by the Press Secretariat of the Agric Minister on Thursday said Mr Mahama may be haunted by the long-held ‘incompetent’ title.
“We are not surprised about this claim coming from the former Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as they have also harboured the intentions to predict doom for the country,” the statement said.
“Ghanaians would recall that in 2017, the same party, represented by its Minority in Parliament, predicted that Ghana was going to face famine, akin to that of 1983, because of an outbreak of Fall Armyworm. But thanks to the vision and efficiency of the President Nana Akufo Addo-led administration, Ghana overcame the outbreak and recorded one of the highest productivity in the agricultural sector.
“We wish to assure the general public that the country will in fact experience a bumper harvest, despite the recent droughts experienced in the early part of the year as well as the challenges in supply of subsidized fertilizers.
“Ghanaians must rest assured that the country will not face food shortage neither will it experience famine as being claimed by the Former President Mahama.”
Find below the full statement:
IGNORE FORMER PRESIDENT MAHAMA, HE IS A SCAREMONGER!!
Ghana is not facing food shortage, PFJ is very much on course!!
Our attention has been drawn to a rather unfortunate comments by the Former President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, about the status of the country’s agriculture and food security, during his so called Thank You tour across the country.
The Former President, in an attempt to shift public discussion from his rather reckless and infamous ‘Do or Die’ comment which has attracted public backlash, has decided to attack one of Government’s most successful flagship policies Planting for Food and Jobs.
In fact, apart from becoming desperately notorious for making reckless comments in recent times, the Former President is now also engaging in scare-mongering, thriving on lies and falsehoods just to put fear in Ghanaians.
In a meeting In the Bono Region, Former President Mahama is on recorded to have made several false claims about the PFJ programme which was introduced by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led administration in 2017.
We wish to set the records straight as follows;
INTRODUCTION OF THE PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS PROGRAMME
The Former President claimed in his speech that the Planting for Food and Jobs programme was an initiative of the previous NDC administration and that his regime secured funding from the Canadian Government for its implementation.
This is completely false. The fact is that the Planting for Food and Jobs is a wholly Government of Ghana (GoG) funded programme.
Mr. Mahama has in fact, confused the Modernising Agriculture Ghana(MAG) programme, which involves a $100M Canadian Grant, exclusively meant for the expansion of extension services programme with that of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative which involves five major areas the Food Crop Model, Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD), Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ), Greenhouse Villages (for Vegetable production and Export) and Mechanization for Food and Jobs.
However, it is instructive to note that since 2017, Government of Ghana has spent over $400M Dollars on the PFJ, expenditure of which had gone into subsidies of improved seeds and fertilizers for farmers.
It must also be stated that the previous administration of the NDC led by Mr. John Dramani Mahama, left the agriculture sector in a state of moribund and comatose.
The extension sector, which is supposed to be the fulcrum around which growth of agriculture revolves, had totally collapsed when the NPP assumed power.
Under the watch of Incompetent Mr. Mahama, the extension sector did not see any staff enforcement for four years.
Though the country required about 4000 extension officers to support the over 3.5M farmers, the NPP in 2016, inherited less than 1400 staff capacity. The worst part of this situation was that, 80% of the staff had reached their retirement age and were on their way out.
To ensure the efficient use of the available resources, President Akufo Addo, under the PFJ programme, immediately granted clearance for the recruitment of over 2700 new extension officers to support the implementation of the programme.
Ghana was importing virtually every food item; including thousands of tons of maize, plantain, banana etc from neighbouring countries. Available data in 2016 indicates that Ghana imported about 113,855 and 79,771 metric tons of maize respectively in 2015 and 2016, and same could be said of other major staple foods such as yam, plantain and soyabean.
The food situation of this country was so bad that farmers could not afford fertilizer for their crops, leading low yields.
Planting for Food and Jobs therefore came to reverse this trend and by the end of 2017 and mid-2018, Ghana became the hub of food supply in the West African sub-region. In fact in 2017, a total of 81,193 tons of food items incudling Maize, Yam, Rice, Plantain and Soyabean were eported to neighbouring countries. This trend has continued up to now.
The NDC administration under President Mahama had also collapsed the vegetable export business after Ghana was banned from exporting vegetables to the European Markets due to poor standard and supervision.
This meant that local farmers and exporters no longer benefitted from the $32 million dollar vegetable market for six consecutive years.
The NPP Government, through Ministry of Food and Agriculture, adopted prudent measures which led to the eventual lifting of the ban in 2018. Today, farmers and exporters are back to business and are making huge profits from exportation of vegetables to the EU Markets whilst at the same time, improving the country’s export revenue capacity.
Ghana has since 2017 gained international recognition for its success in revamping the agricultural sector. Global organizattions such as World Bank, Alliance For Green Revolution Africa (AGRA), African Development Bank(AfDB), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), amongst others, have all commended Government of Ghana for the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.
In 2019, Ghana placed 3rd in the Global Food Security Index by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU). In the 2020-21 Report by The Permanent Interstate Committee for drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), Ghana was recognized as the only country in the West African sub-region with stable food security situation, thanks to the successful implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
Today, farmers in the country are better off, in terms of their production capacity, purchasing power and economic situation than they were in 2016.
This has been largely due to the implementation of deliberate policies and programmes by the President Nana Akufo Addo-led administration of the NPP.
FOOD SHORTAGE AND HUNGER
Again, it is needless to say that the claims by Former President Mahama that Ghana is likely to face food shortage leading to hunger in the coming year, is only an act of scare-mongering.
Perhaps, he is being haunted by his long held incompetent title which has led to his obsession for failure.
We are not surprised about this claim coming from the former Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as they have also harboured the intentions to predict doom for the country.
Ghanaians would recall that in 2017, the same party, represented by its Minority in Parliament, predicted that Ghana was going to face famine, akin to that of 1983, because of an outbreak of Fall Armyworm. But thanks to the vision and efficiency of the President Nana Akufo Addo-led administration, Ghana overcame the outbreak and recorded one of the highest productivity in the agricultural sector.
We wish to assure the general public that the country will in fact experience a bumper harvest, despite the recent droughts experienced in the early part of the year as well as the challenges in supply of subsidized fertilizers.
Ghanaians must rest assured that the country will not face food shortage neither will it experience famine as being claimed by the Former President Mahama.
SUPPLY OF FERTILIZER
Former President Mahama again continues to live in the world of fantasy and refused to appreciate the realities of the challenges that COVID-19 has imposed on the global economy, including production and trading of fertilizer produce.
Global prices of fertilizers have witnessed astronomical increases due to production shut down, culminating in the inability of major suppliers to trade in the product.
As we are all aware before the advent of COVID-19, supply of inputs under the PFJ programme never experienced any challenges. However, COVID-19 posed serious challenges on government’s revenue generation capacity, leading to the effects on general subsidy of fertilizers under the programme.
It is however important to make clear distinction that fertilizers between government subsidized and open market fertilizers.
Despite the fall in local revenue mobilization which forced government to reduce the subsidy capacity, general supply of fertilizer on the market has not been disrupted and many more farmers have had easy access to them.
Again, we believe that one of the major objectives of the PFJ programme, which was to introduce farmers to the adoption of fertilizers and improved seeds, has been significantly achieved.
Today, many more farmers are aware of the need to adopt the use of fertilizers and improved seeds in order to increase production.
We therefore wish to reiterate the fact that the country is very safe from any threats of food shortage and that the Former President is only engaging in a desperate scaremongering just for political expediency.
MINISTER FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE