A senior lecturer and Research Fellow of the Kumasi Technical University’s (KTU) Institute of Research, Innovation and Development (IRID), Dr Smart Sarpong, has advised the Minister of Agriculture to stop piling up agricultural modules and consolidate the existing ones.
Dr Sarpong was commenting on Adom FM’s Burning Issues on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, on the 2020 Budget Statement and Financial Policy of the government presented by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
His comments come on the back of the Finance Minister’s failure to state any increment in food production during the budget presentation.
“The gains made this year are mostly from the Service sector even though we’ve been preaching agriculture over the years and it does not auger well for us as an agrarian economy,” he said.
During the 2020 budget presentation, the Finance Minister indicated some meaningful progress in the agric sector resulting from the initiatives the government has adopted since it came to power in 2016.
“Over the last three years, significant progress has been made in the agricultural modernisation programme. We are delivering this agenda through our key flagship initiative: Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) under the following modules; Food Crop Production; Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD); Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ); Greenhouse Technology Development as well as Mechanization for Food and Jobs,” Ken Ofori-Atta told Parliament.
He also stated “the interventions also created significant jobs along the commodity value chain. A total of 746,601 and 794,944 jobs were created in 2017 and 2018 respectively. About 94 per cent of these jobs are linked to farm level employment, 4 per cent to value addition and postharvest service provision and the remaining 2 per cent to extension delivery and ICT”.
But the KTU IRID researcher said the bumper harvest from the sector over the last two years, which has saved the nation some funds from importation, could be lost due to the over-concentration on the modules.
“We didn’t import maize the last two years yet we may be importing in the third year because much attention has been given to the numerous modules in the sector instead of concentrating on increasing productivity,” he said.
Dr Sarpong also cast doubt over whether the government would be able to attain its 2020 revenue target of GHS67.1 billion because the Minister did not give any new ideas to increase revenue mobilization through taxes.
Meanwhile, he urged the House to take advantage of the Right to Information Law which will be operational in 2020 to “verify the figures in the budget statement” to settle any future “cooked figures” allegations as claimed by the Minority, National Democratic Congress (NDC) a few days ago.
Dr Sarpong, however, explained why he thinks figures from credible sources across the country are sometimes challenged especially by politicians, noting that it is an indictment on the nation.
“The politicians are doubting the figures not because they don’t believe in it but because they know there are some first-time voters who may fall for that to vote for them,” he said.