The vigilant eye of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Akatsi South, Hon Bernard Ahiafor, has save Ghanaian farmers from imprisonment under the Tree Crop Development Authority Bill 2019.
Mr Ahiafor made the intervention during the consideration of the
the Bill, currently before parliament.
The Bill, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture sought to punish farmers and any person who violate the Tree Crop Development Authority for failing to register or license their crops under the Authority.
Clause 24, of the Bill which captured the offence reads,” A person who (a) refuses to provide information as requested by an officer of the Authority,(b) make a false declaration in a submission to the authority,(c) obstruct an officer in the discharge of the duty of the officer and fails to register or be license, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not more than five hundred penalty unit or to a term of imprisonment of not more than two year or both.”
The purpose of the Bill is to establish Tree Crop Development Authority as a regulatory body to regulate tree crops in the country.
The tree crops under consideration in the bill includes Oil Palm, Rubber, Shea, Cashew, Mango and Cocoanut.
But Mr Ahiafor who proposed a lot of amendments in the Bill , called for a total deleting of Clause 24 (c) of the Bill on grounds that, criminalising Tree Crops , sought to devalue the effort farmers tolled and continued to toll for the nation.
In his view, the Sponsor of the Bill did not think of the impact of farmers in the development process and that criminalising it would not serve the interest of the country.
He added that the purpose of the Bill should not be how to imprison farmers but rather to find ways of protecting and promoting the crops in the country.
Mr Ahiafor passionately appealed to parliament to delete the Clause (c) from the Bill to ensure that no farmer or any person goes to prison simply because, he failed to licensed his crops under the Tree Crops Development Authority.
His appeal touched the hearts of Members present, especially, the Minority side who threw in more arguments in support of the amendment to remove the offence of imprisonment from the Tree Crops Development Authority Bill, 2019.
They argued that, rather the Authority should make incentive provision that would motivate tree crop farmers to register and license their crops.
After back and forth arguments over the matter, the amendment was effected decriminalising any person who failed to register or liencse his or her tree crops.
Had it not been the vigilant eye of the Akatsi South lawmaker, many innocent Ghanaian farmers who grow tree crops to care for themselves and families could be jail for simply failing to register or license their crops.
Similarly, Coconut and Mango which were originally not part of the Bill were also added into the Bill with Members urging the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to look for funds for the production of the two crops.
Coconut which was mentioned as part of the six tree crops that the government hopes to financially support its production under the proposed Tree Crop Development Authority was ‘mysteriously’ missing from the policy document presented to Parliament.
The other crops include rubber, oil palm, coffee, mango and cashew.
Cabinet is said to have overwhelmingly approved the policy including coconut when it was presented to them for consideration.
However, the coconut crop was strangely missing from the policy document that Parliament is currently considering.
It also took the intervention of the Minister of State at the Office of the Senior Minister and MP for Evalue-Gwira-Ajomoro, Hon. Catherine Afeku, to remind the House about the importance of the coconut.
MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, argued that it was imperative for the coconut to be added, so the people of Western and Central regions to benefit from the resources that would be made available for the development of tree crops as stated in the Bill.
He therefore supported the arguement for the amendment of Clause 26 of the Bill to define Tree Crop to include oil palm, rubber, Shea, mango, cashew and coconut.
“Mr. Speaker, I so move on her behalf (Hon. Catherine Afeku) for this amendment based on the passionate appeal she made to this House. That a number of constituencies in the Western Region and Central Region have the potential for the development and expansion of the coconut tree and so we should include it so that they will benefit from the resources that will be made available from the development of tree crops mentioned in the bill”, he informed.
Second Deputy Speaker, Hon. Alban K.S. Bagbin, who was on the Seat and was also touched by the plea of Hon. Ahiafor and Hon Afeku, assured that their proposal would be put into consideration, noting that “That is what multi-parry democracy is about – how you respond to the diverse interest of the society”.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba