Minority Ranking member on Food Agriculture committee of parliament, Hon Eric Opku has said, the 745,000 jobs government claimed to have created under the Agric sector was inaccurate and that, labours employed by farmers on daily basis, locally known as “By-Day” are not full time workers under the government pay slip.
According to him, since immemorial of farming, farmers have always engaged daily labours on their farms and that government inclusive estimating of farm labours as jobs created is palpably deceptive.
He challenged the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to provide evidence of the 745,000 jobs created in the first phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
The Minority Ranking comments followed the Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Afriyie Akoto’s announcement last week that 745,000 jobs had been created under the first phase of the programme with the caveat that the jobs were “unofficial jobs.
The Minister explained to the media that the jobs were created in rural areas, and were essentially not taxable, and did not contribute to pension funds following the earlier skepticism that met the announced figures.
The figures were based on the number of additional inputs as well as improved seeds and fertilizers supplied to participating farmers in 2017.
But Mr Opoku, who is also a Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South in Brong Ahafo Region, told THE REPUBLIC that, the figures by the government as number of jobs created under the planting for food and jobs programme were lies and deceptive.
“We all know from day one that, farmers always hires labours on their farmers on daily bases which is known as “by-day”, and farmers hied these workers without government support. If you have created 745,000 jobs, where are the jobs, how much is being use to pay them, you must provide us with that and tell us how sustainable are these employment,?” the Minority member said.
The immediate former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister urged Ghanaians to disregard claims by the Ministry of Agriculture that over 745,000 jobs have been created under the government’s planting for food and jobs programme.
In his view, extending services to already existing farmers cannot be considered as creating new jobs, pointing that, he had not seen any strategic plan for the implantation yet, but the Minister is out there claiming provision of jobs that do not exist.
“As I have said, I have not seen any strategic blueprint for the planting for food and jobs, they are only assisting farmers who are already in the field, they didn’t create new farmers, all they did was extend facility to them, is that creation of new jobs? ”he said.
Mr Opoku said, since the government and thee Ministry cannot provide tangible evidence of people that have benefited from the planting for food and jobs project, but relied on daily hired labours, then there is still big gap to unemployment which is causing the youth to result to political vigilantism.
The ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme, which was launched in 2017, is expected to modernize agriculture, improve production, achieve food security and make Ghana more self-sufficient, whilst creating jobs for the youth.
The initiative was expected to increase the production of maize by 30%, rice by 49%, soybean by 25% and sorghum by 28% for current production levels
However the Minority ranking member said that is only a dream because, in paragraph, 789 of the 2018 budget statement claimed government had distributed 100,000mt of subsidised fertilizer to farmers, while para 388, also said,the government had distributed 121,000mt of subsidized fertilizer to farmers.
Additionally, he said in Para 388 of the budget statement, the government also claimed to have recruited 3,230, youth under the planting for food and jobs programme, 2,160 been graduates from Universities, 170 been youth and 822 youth as Agric-extension officers.
This, he said is contrary to the reality underground and urged Ghanaians to ignore claimed by the government that 745,000 jobs have been created in the last 12 months in the agriculture sector.
Joining in the debate, the Deputy Ranking on Food and Agriculture and MP for Chereponi, Hon Samuel Abdulai Jabayite, called on the Minister for Food and Agriculture to render an apology to Ghanaians for not been factual and truth with regards to the 745,000 jobs.
He said, though the government might have different thinking in the figures, the reality is that, government is not responsible for direct hiring of labours on farm adding that, some farmers produces in about 4-5 hectors of land with labour or without as against the two acres claimed by government.
Sources:www.therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba