Read Wider Mr. Mahama, the Agric Sector Under You Failed Miserably; Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto’s Performance is Peerless

Read Wider Mr. Mahama, the Agric Sector Under You Failed Miserably; Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto’s Performance is Peerless

By Association of Free SHS Graduates

We have come across an article titled “Planting for Food and Jobs is my Idea Says Mahama” published by DailyGuide Newspaper on 10th September, 2021 in which former President John Mahama claims that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is his brainchild and that the policy adopted by the NPP Government is failing. We, Association of Free SHS Graduates will as a result like to take this opportunity to address and correct this anomaly and antic churned out by John Mahama.

In Africa, It is worthy to note that, Agriculture is recognized as the sector for the reduction of poverty. The agricultural sector is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy. Agriculture growth rate declined from 7.4% in 2008 to 2.4% in 2016. Since 2009 the budgetary allocated to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been reducing. According to the 2016 budget presented to the 6th Parliament, GH$501.5 million was allocated to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture out of the total budgeted expenditure of GH$43.5 billion which is 1.2% of the expenditure. To revamp the agricultural sector in order to arrest the declining trend and reverse the anomaly created by the Do or Die incompetent Papa No Mahama, the NPP Government led by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his workaholic and iconic Agric Minister, Akuafo Adamfo Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto introduced the flagship agricultural policy called Planting Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ). This policy was launched on April 19, 2017 at Goaso in the Ahafo Region. The PFJ is a campaign with five implementation modules starting with the Planting for Food and Jobs PFJ itself which promotes food security via crops namely: maize, rice, sorghum, soya bean and vegetable crops(onion, pepper and tomato). This has been expanded to include groundnut, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, cassava, cowpea, plantain and orange flesh sweet potato(OFSP). About 1.7 million farmers have enrolled on this policy.
Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) module is promoting the cultivation of cash crops such as cashew, coffee, coconut, oil palm, mango, rubber and shea butter. The Rearing for Food and Jobs(RFJ) is developing a competitive and more efficient livestock industry that will increase domestic meat production and reduce importation of livestock. The Greenhouse Villages Technology also focuses at ensuring that there is sufficient vegetables for both local and international markets while the Agricultural Mechanization Centres(AMSECs) aims at mechanizing agriculture through the use of hand-held implements and modernizing agriculture.

Planting for Food and Jobs is not the Idea of Mahama
The Former President claimed that the Planting for Food and Jobs was an initiative of the previous NDC administration and that his regime secured funding from the Canadian Government for its implementation.
We, the Association of Free SHS Graduates want to reiterate that his comment is completely false because the PFJ is a wholly Government of Ghana(GoG) funded programme. Indeed Former President Mahama has in fact confused the Modernizing Agriculture Ghana(MAG) programme which involves a $100 million Canadian Grant, exclusively meant for the expansion of extension services programme with that of the PFJ. This grant from the Canadian Government under the MAG programme was supposed to be released in four tranches over a 4-year period. This translated into $25 million Canadian Dollars every year. However since 2017, Government of Ghana has spent over 400 million Dollars on the PFJ expenditure of which had gone into subsidizes of improved seeds and fertilizers for farmers.

Ghana is not facing food shortage, PFJ is very much on course
President Mahama also predicted that Ghana could face food shortage come next year. We, the Association of Free SHS Graduates are not surprised with his reckless mention because it can be recalled 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 that destroyed maize. But by the efforts of the assiduous Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Ghana overcame the outbreak and recorded one of the highest production in the agricultural history of Ghana.

The previous NDC administration led by Former President John Mahama who could not even manage common Dumsor left the agricultural 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 the Incompetent Papa No’s administration , the extension sector did not see any staff enforcement for four solid years. Though the country were in need of about 4000 extension officers to support the over 3.5 million farmers to help boost the economy, the NPP in 2016 inherited less than 1400 staff capacity. The saddest part of this situation was that 80% of the staff had reached their retirement age and were on their way out. So how can Former President John Mahama say he started the PFJ policy whilst the resources were not sufficient to implement the policy?
To ensure the efficient use of the available resources, His Excellency NADAA under the PFJ programme immediately granted clearance for the recruitment of over 2,700 new extension officers to support the implementation of the programme.

Ghana was importing virtually every food item under Ex Prez John Mahama’s regime including thousands of tonnes of maize, plantain and banana from neighbouring countries. Ghana imported about 113,855 and 79,771 metric tonnes of maize respectively in 2015 and 2016, and same could be said of other major staple foods such as rice (1,082,224 in 2015 and 982,044 in 2016), yam, plantain and soya bean.
The food situation of this country was so bad that farmers could not afford fertilizers for their crops leading to low yields.
In 2017, 4,400 tonnes of certified seeds of cereals(maize, rice and sorghum) and legumes(soya bean) were made available to farmers, including four tonnes of vegetable seeds(tomato, onion and pepper). In 2018, a total of nearly 7,000 tonnes of seeds of the various crops including groundnut and vegetables(lettuce, cucumber,carrot and cabbage). In 2019, over 15,000 tonnes of improved seeds were made available to farmers under the campaign.
To encourage the fertilizer use under the PFJ, a total of 79,943 tonnes of granular fertilizer(25kg) were distributed in 2018 and in 2019, the figure was more than double, increasing to 160,000 tonnes.
For the liquid fertilizer, 266,606 litres were distributed in 2018 and shot up to 2,200,000, while the compost went from 36,239kg in 2018 to 100,000kg in 2019.
In 2017 a total of 228,684 hectares were cropped with maize, rice and soya bean yielding a total output of 697,400 tonnes, while in 2018, from 373,384 hectares cropped 1,247,620 tonnes was realised.

We thank the government for undertaking aggressive move to provide adequate warehousing facilities to prevent the usual post-harvest losses of food associated with bumper harvests. In line with this the warehousing capacity has been increased from 27 warehouses we inherited with the capacity of 34,000 tonnes in 2017 to 160 warehouses with 160,000 tonnes in 2019 at vantage points to ensure that no farm product goes waste. Obviously, this meant that there had been an unprecedented volume of food crops at the end of the 2018 farming season resulting in the export of a total of 150,000 tonnes of main food items to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Niger, Benin and Nigeria which were previously imported under Ex Prez John Mahama’s regime.

PFJ 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 tonnes of food items including Maize(19,666), soya bean(3,569), yam(13,352), rice(3,671) and plantain(40,935) were exported to neighbouring countries. This trend has continued up to now.
The NDC administration under Former President Mahama performed abysmally which 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 benefited from the $32 million Dollars vegetable market for six consecutive years. The NPP Government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture adopted prudent measures which led to 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.

Global recognition
Through the indefatigable Agric minister Ghana has since 2017 gained international recognition for its success in revamping the agricultural sector. Global organizations such as World Bank, Alliance for Green Revolution Africa(AGRA), African Development Bank(ADB), Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) amongst others have all recommended 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 ie most resilient country against food shortages or famine in West African sub-region. Ghana is now the breadbasket of West Africa where the country has moved from not being on track in 2019 on the African Agriculture Transformation Scorecard(AATS).

The entire Free SHS Graduates would therefore like to thank His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture spearheaded by the hardworking Agric Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto for the implementation of Government’s most successful flagship policy, Planting for Food and Jobs and its unprecedented contributions to the economy of the Nation. We are very appreciative because the policy provided us with quality meals and also continues to serve as the main backbone of the Free SHS (FSHS) policy.