Many factors contribute to the dwindling benefits of agriculture in Ghana, and amongst them are price volatility of agriculture products and farmers income, inadequate incentives to farmers, use of outmoded agricultural practices, market availability and many more.
In spite of these challenges, the agricultural sector continues to be a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, yet governments over the years have committed little resources to improve the performance of agriculture in Ghana.
It is however intriguing to know that past and present leaders of Ghana have proposed several solutions to improve the agricultural sector on several platforms.
The two presidential candidates of the two major political parties in Ghana: Nana Akufo-Addo (New Patriotic Party) and John Dramani Mahama (National Democratic Congress), have both made specific remarks on how to improve the agricultural sector while they were Members of Parliament between 1997 and 2009.
From below, you would identify some of the statements they made on the Floor of Parliament. How have they stayed true to these opinions during the four years they have both served as Presidents of Ghana, and how are these thoughts reflected in their plans for the next 4 years?
John Dramani Mahama
Endorsing the Financial Policy (Budget) of the then Rawlings-led 2nd-Term NDC Government, as was presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Mr Mahama recalled those moments as a young man when he saw large scales of rice farms in Northern Ghana as a student and supported the government’s policy to encourage medium and large-scale commercial farming.
He further called for the government to ensure that farmers can get good return for their investments in order to incentivise them to increase production. He said;
“Mr. Speaker, I think that the major problem of agricultural production in this country is the collapse of market prices after a good crop year… and I think that it is necessary for this country to mop up excess agricultural produce and store such produce in order to keep the prices of agricultural products stable so that farmers can get a good return for the investments…
“In this regard I suggest that the Food Distribution Corporation be strengthened and if possible divested and also the silos that were established by the NDC Government in several areas of this country should be diverted to private people”. ([05-March-1997] Source: Hansard of Parliament)
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo:
Speaking on the floor of Parliament in contribution to the debate on the approval of the Annual Budget Estimate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Nana Akufo-Addo drew the attention of the House to some challenges that farmers (especially those from his Constituency) go through before they get paid for the produce.
He encouraged that much attention be given to the sector in order to improve the performance of the sector.
“…Mr. Speaker, there is a lot we need to do to improve the performance of the agricultural sector. And at the heart of it is the question of incentives to rural producers; and that is a critical matter… we can only do so if we make a systematic effort to pump more and more resources into the rural economy… that is the true path to national prosperity for our country.”. ([25-March-1998] Source: Hansard of Parliament)
These statements are brought to you by Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) as part of its project to highlight the consistency or otherwise in the views and ideologies of both flagbearers of the two major political parties in Ghana, and to hold them accountable to their speech while in public office. PNAfrica is a parliamentary monitoring civil society organisation promoting open parliament across Africa.