…For failing ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ project
Nana Oboadie Opambuo Boateng, the president of the Concerned Farmers Association, has attributed the failure of the Akufo-Addo government’s “Planting for Food and Jobs” project in some parts of the country to the arrogant and haughty posture of Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Food and Agriculture Minister, and his technical advisor, Krobea Asante.
According to him, the distasteful attitude exhibited by these top government officials heading the country’s Agric sector is going to worsen the relations between farmers and government agencies
He therefore urged President Akufo-Addo, as a matter of urgency, to sack the Minister of Food and Agriculture.
“Take for instance some comments and utterances made by Dr. Afriyie Akoto and his Technical Advisor Krobea Asante. The last time we met them, they were angry at us; yes they were angry at us, the farmers. The Agric Minister during the meeting indicated that he is going to give us only one hour of his time because he has other important meetings to attend, he then left us in the hands of Krobea Asante and the Acting Director at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Gyasi, who also could not tell us anything substantial which shows that they are just toying us the farmers,” he stated.
The comment of the president of the Concerned Farmers Association comes following reports by the Minister of State in charge of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Nurah Gyiele, that the Agric Ministry is struggling to register the targeted 200,000 smallholder farmers under the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme, even though the farming season has set in.
He said the total number of farmers registered under the programme is not encouraging; hence more farmers need to be registered if the government will meet its target.
Nana Boateng, who sounded very disappointed with the way the Minister of Food and Agriculture is handling issues relating to Ghanaian farmers, told this paper in an interview that it seems the Akufo-Addo led government is joking with the lives of farmers, resulting in the decline of food security in the country.
“Looking at the way things are going, these people are joking with farmers; they are just playing with us because the things that would have helped in improving the fortune of the agriculture is gradually dwindling. The fertilizer brought into the country as a result of Planting for Food and Jobs should have been customized to prevent it from ending up in wrong hands on the market,” he said.
He hinted that farmers in the three northern regions are not participating fully in the ongoing “Planting for Food and Jobs” project, because they lack knowledge about the whole exercise and those expected to explain and educate these farmers properly are feeling too big in their shoes to do that.
The Concerned Farmers Association president believes that had the project been entrusted into the hands of the various farmer groups in the country, instead of politicians spearheading the programme, the “Planting for Food and Jobs” initiative would have chalked a certain amount of success now since its inception.
The “Planting for Food and Jobs” is expected to be rolled out in all 216 districts across the country, and will involve the supply of farm resources, such as high yielding and improved seedlings, to participating farmers.
The NPP government has said that, it intends to revolutionize agriculture in the country by introducing the programme, which is expected to create more than 750,000 jobs.
The programme, according to the government, would also motivate farmers to grow staple foods, such as maize, millet and beans. Interested farmers are to be provided with free seedlings, among other agricultural inputs, and agro-chemicals, such as fertilizer, at reduced prices.