The National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) spokesperson on Agric, Michael Harry Yamson, has stated that despite the positive impact of the ruling New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Planting for Food and Jobs policy (PFJ), it will not be adequate to sustain the country’s quest for agricultural industrialization.
According to him, the PFJ is solely focused on small scale farmers without the inclusion of large and medium scale farmers, who he says are the future of the country’s agricultural industrialization drive.
Speaking on JoyNews’ PM:Express, the Manifesto Tracker, Michael Harry Yamson stated that despite the PFJ generally increasing production of rice in the country, the productivity levels of major rice production regions – the Volta Region and Northern enclave – had suffered a decline.
This he says is a worrying trend as it could lead to the impoverishment of these areas.
He said: “Those numbers on rice that you saw, don’t tell you a certain story. We had a base of cultivated land under rice production and then we added on to that stock of land over the term he’s talking about. When you do the analysis, what you see is that, the productivity gains actually mean that where Ghana has its current base for rice production, the Volta Region and the Northern enclave, actually suffered a decline in the yield per acre during this period.
“So what you see when you analyse the numbers, the yield on the additional land that was added is that you’ll see very clearly Volta Region recorded about 25% increase in yield. The Upper East recorded -9, Upper West only 9, Northern Region 16. These are the hotspots for rice production and they recorded the lowest increases in productivity.”
He added that whilst the policy to expand rice production in the country is commendable, it would be detrimental to “take your eye off the most important areas.”
“When you deliver the totals but you, at the same time, deliver the worst increases, the lowest increases, in your hotspots for rice production that means you may well achieve 90% of rice production locally but you would have impoverished the areas that currently are your hotspots,” he stated.
Mr Yamson stated that should the policy continue to function as it currently does without the inclusion of large scale and medium scale farmers, the programme would run itself out.
“Most of the beneficiaries are small holder farmers with one acre two acre farms. Now that is fine for maintaining subsistence agriculture, but that is not the future. So Planting for Food and Jobs has a date stamp, it will run itself out.”
He was however quick to point out that the NDC manifesto addresses this deficiency where it says “we want to invest in developing more of the medium scale and large scale farms that will be the future if we want to have industrialization in our agricultural sector.”
“I don’t for one minute say that let’s not do something that will benefit our farmers, but we must do it in such a way that we don’t take our eye off those who have held up the industry,” Mr. Yamson stressed.
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