Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, December 04, 2015
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of collapsing the agricultural sector which is supposed to be the backbone of the economy.
The NPP has observed that agriculture is stagnating and has since 2008 underperformed as figures have shown that the government is not interested in developing the sector.
The party’s vice presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, at a media briefing on Wednesday in response to the 2016 budget statement presented to parliament recently by the NDC government through the Finance Minister, said the sector is almost non-existent under the NDC government.
“Real growth in agriculture tumbled from 7.4% in 2008 to 7.2% in 2009 through 5.3% in 2010; 0.8% in 2011; 2.3% in 2012; 5% in 2013; 4.6 in 2014 and now the rock-bottom figure of 0.04% in 2015. Indeed, the crops sub-sector, the dominant factor in agriculture, experienced a negative growth rate, i.e. -1.7%.
“In 2014 only 1.07% of total budgeted allocation went to agriculture, out of the total of GH¢44 billion budget figure. For 2015 only GH¢484.3 million, equivalent to 1.1%, is allocated to the two ministries of Food and Agriculture, and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development,” he said.
According to Dr Bawumia, a renowned economist, the reason why agriculture is not doing well is because of what he called “the paltry budgetary allocation to the sector.”
He noted, “In 2009, 3% of the entire budget was allocated to agriculture. It climbed down to 1.9% in 2012 and 1.03% in 2013. In 2016 the total budget figure is GH¢50 billion and the allocations to the two ministries of Food and Agriculture, and Fish and Aquaculture sums up to GH¢554,208,420 which is equivalent to 1.1% of the entire budget.
“All these paltry allocations have been made against the background of the Maputo Declaration, which provides that governments in Africa must invest at least 6% of their annual budgets in agriculture.”
Dr. Bawumia said that currently, the government had not invested enough in fertilizer and other inputs; agricultural extension services, agricultural mechanization and youth in agriculture and block farming programmes had been heavily politicized while the buffer stock projects lacked cash injection.
“The stagnation in agriculture found expression in the importation of $1.5 billion of food stuff into the country in 2014 against a food import bill of $600 million in 2008. The import of fish, poultry, tomatoes, cooking oil, has all doubled between 2008 and 2015.
“The production of basic food staples (cereals, legumes, roots and tubers) has all been stagnating. The huge yearly vacillations in outputs and the rising imports of rice from 395,400 metric tonnes in 2008 to 543,465 metric tonnes in 2011 and over 600,000 tonnes in 2013 for which alone the nation spent $374 million (Ref. Pg. 11 of 2014 State of the Nation Address) testify to the escalating food insecurity in the country.”
He said Ghana is on the brink of “serious shortages in the supply of maize, a major staple,” adding, “In 2012, crops grew at 0.8%; in 2015 crop was projected to grow at 5.8%, later reviewed to 4.1%. It grew at 1.7% which was 141.5% short of what was anticipated to be produced.”
Dr Bawumia noted that production of meat and fish had not seen much growth while fish production grew by 5.7% in 2013 but experienced negative growth of 5.6% in 2014 - that is almost 200% short of what was anticipated and that is why in 2015 the target growth was set at a modest 1.9%.
“There has been a steady increase in the importation of livestock and poultry products: from 128,000 metric tonnes in 2008, to 139,000 tonnes in 2011, $170 million in 2013 and $283 million on imported fish.”
Dr. Bawumia also said that there is steady and consistent decline in cocoa production since 2010/2011 and added, “It is a reflection of both misguided policies and poor implementation of projects pursued by the NDC administration.”
He said that “In spite of the pressing needs of the farmers, the NDC government has not adopted adequate measures to reduce the burden of Ghanaian farmers, contrary to the rhetoric and propaganda.”
“Lack of focus of agricultural policy is reflected in misplaced emphasis on window-dressing schemes such as the Youth in Agriculture, Block Farming and the infamous Guinea fowl and afforestation projects of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).”
He lamented, “What is worrisome is the corrupt management of these projects which has resulted in huge financial losses to the State and the Ghanaian taxpayer.”