Agriculture Analysis On The 2017 Budget – Ilapi – Ghana

By:  Peter Bismark Kwofie

Agric Minister Dr. Akoto Osei

 

The solution of the NPP’s government to a seeming declining agricultural sector in the #Budget2017 is to modernize the sector and to improve productivity. Measures outlined, inter alia include: Provision of improved seeds; supply of fertilizers; provision of dedicated extension services; marketing and E-agriculture; and monitoring.

Concerns:
The measures indicated how much fertilizer will be supplied to achieve this objective, 180,000 metric tonnes for the year. It also indicated it will import improved seeds to augment the program. However,

1. One question here is why import improved seeds to augment? Improved and certified seeds could be obtained from MoFA, our universities and other research institutions like the CSIR.

2. No specifics were provided as to how much of these seeds will be supplied? How many Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs) will be trained, recruited or deployed to various stations across the country for this program?

3. How are the goods in question going to be marketed, by which means, is it that government itself will deploy buyers at farm gate to buy these goods? Are the produce going to be sold processed or in raw form?

4. Any plans in place to arrest postharvest losses, which is one major challenge for farmers, especially those producing cereals? What of packaging?

5. In terms of monitoring, how is it going to be done/achieved? How is progress going to be measured and evaluated?

6. Most importantly, the budget did not indicate how much it will cost to achieve each of these objectives. No detail information and specifics were shared on this.

7. The budget also did not provide specific timelines to achieve each of these objectives.

Main Focus: The Planting for Food and Jobs Program.

This is to encourage all citizens (both urban and rural) to take up farming as a full or part-time activity. It is intended to structure it along the lines of the erstwhile “Operation Feed Yourself”(OFY) programme in the 1970s under Acheampong’s regime. The program is envisaged to provide jobs to about 750,000 people. This is laudable initiative.

This program will ensure all year food production, improves food security, curb food shortage, provide jobs, improve family income, improve livelihoods, ensures judicious use of land resources, etc. This program is similar to that used in urban agriculture. Countries such as Cuba, for example, successfully used urban agriculture as a means to evade food shortages (See Murphy, 2004), while many developing countries have long been farming within cities and towns for income and subsistence (See Nugent, 2001). Strong institutional efforts and technical assistance will be needed to achieve this.

Concerns:
1. Cost details were not provided.
2. How did they arrive at conclusion of 750,000 jobs?

3. The other projection of 30 percent from current production levels, rice by 49 %, soybean by 25 % and sorghum by 28 %.

4. How did these projections come about when there was no mentioning of the costs involved?

5. No investments plans made for the livestock sector?

6. No plans of irrigation facilities and investments to increase acreage of farmlands?

7. No allocation made for climate smart agriculture initiatives and investments to boost production for farmers especially in the face of climate change? This is another external shock facing the agricultural sector. Climate change, leading to delayed and erratic rain pattern in some parts of our agricultural industrial areas, and this natural phenomenon has affected agricultural output drastically.

8. Access to credits by farmers? This is a major issue facing farmers. The budget failed to elaborate on that but still seeking to subsidize farm inputs in the short term.

9. How much allocation made for research initiatives towards achieving these objectives?

10. Introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The budget failed to tackle the GMO situation and its commercialization in the country. One major concern is that the importation of the said improved seeds would lead to introduction of GMOs into the country. Farmers and the general public are ignorant of these GMOs and would there be public education on this mystery seeds before it implementation?

The Ghana National Biosafety Authority has issued Guidelines on handling requests for the use of GMOs in Ghana. This is in accordance with Section 40(3) of the Biosafety Act, which mandates the Authority to issue guidelines on its operations. This was not captured in the budget as to how the regulation would be carried with cost and evaluation tendencies. The plant breeder bill has faced a lot of heckles in the years with civil societies asking for further amendments to avert certain uncertainties. The procedures that any individual or entity need to go through in requesting approval to undertake confined field trials, commercialise, import and export GMOs out of the country needs a better education to sensitize the populace. This obviously denotes that, no matter how the agitation to GMOs in the country, the government would still legalize it use.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is currently undertaking field trials of GMO cotton, cowpea and rice as part of approval procedures before they could be released onto the market. However, information getting to the desk of the Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation is alleged that there are cabalistic distributions of GMO seeds to farmers in some parts of the country even though commercialization has not begun.

STATISTICS
Agriculture has been the principal sector for the development and growth of the economy in the past years. The contribution of agriculture to GDP in the other years is: 2010 – 29.8%, 2011 – 25.3%, 2012 – 22.9%, 2013 – 22.4%, 2014 – 21.5%. It dropped from 31.8% in 2009 to 29.8% in 2010, representing 2% GDP contribution lost. In 2011, agriculture’s contribution dropped by 4.5% to 25.3% while 2012 recorded a 2.4%.

The year 2013 recorded a 0.5% drop in the contribution of agriculture from 22.9% in 2012 to 22.4% in 2013. Total spending on Agriculture Modernisation in 2015 amounted to GH¢27.04 million against a budget of GH¢30.57 million. Of this amount, spending on Food and Agriculture infrastructure amounted to GH¢26.24 million. This was particularly for the construction and rehabilitation of dams and irrigation infrastructure and fertiliser subsidy.

Additionally, GH¢0.80 million was advanced towards the construction of the Fisheries College and aquaculture development. On the food, which food programs were carried out? Are there any national food storage facilities? NO! We stand to be corrected. Subsidies are medieval, a negative sum transaction and enables government spending and corruption. It would be good to bring into light the allocated amount for fertilizer subsidies, including how many farmers benefited and the outcome of this welfare practice.

The Agriculture Sector is expected to record an average growth rate of 3.3% in the medium term from the 2017 Budget. The Sector is expected to record a growth of 3.5% for both 2016 and 2017, declining to 3.0% in 2018. This may not be able to accounts for about 40% of GDP and generates 60% of foreign exchange earnings in the medium term. What we produce may feed the one-district-one-factory projects and the quality of the finished produce may or may not attract export. Government cut its 2016 expenditure on the sector by GHC40 million despite growth in the sector stalling to 0.04%.

In 2015 government’s budgeted expenditure on the agricultural sector is GHC395.19 million while for 2016, GHC355.14 million was been budgeted, indicating a 10.1% decrease. By the end of September 2015, GHC91.54 million had been spent out of the GHs395.19 million budgeted. Out of the GHC91.54 million spent, about GHs82.57 million of this actual sector expenditure, representing 90.21%, was spent on poverty-focused expenditures and still there is poverty.

There are lots of activities that go on in the service sector better and more than the agricultural sector shifting the goal post to the former. Agriculture was the main source of growth and foreign exchange until when oil production replaced it as the cornerstone of growth for the formal economy. In 2015 the GDP growth of the service sector accrued GHs17,470.0 million and agriculture once the backbone and mainstay of Ghana’s economy made GHs 7,365.o million.

The Industry Sector is projected to record an average growth rate of 13.2% in the medium-term, the highest rate among the sectors. The Sector is expected to grow by 17% in 2016, 18.3% in 2017, and 14.3% in 2018. If the growth of industries demand exceeds the productions of raw materials from the agricultural sector, local industries would have no option than to import raw materials to meet the deficits.

In 2015, GDP from Manufacturing in Ghana was GH¢ 2,288.0 million which is far below that of agriculture GH¢7,365.0 million. However, industrialization is expected to increase and would put pressure on raw materials from our farms. We export more of our raw materials than we import and this may intern lead to the importation of raw materials for our industries. Care must be taken not to get it twisted. Switzerland exports finished products such as pharmaceutical products, tools and equipment and vehicles to Ghana whiles we export raw materials such as Gold, cocoa and Cashew nuts. To digress, in 2014 alone, the volume of trade between Switzerland and Ghana hit $1.8 billion and has since been rising every year. Within the same period, Ghana imported $14.8 billion, making it the 87th largest importer in the world. Ghana imports tones of snails, and fresh vegetables from its regional neighbours. The budget failed to address importation except that of fingerlings.

Over the last five years, the imports of Ghana have increased at an annualized rate of 13.7% from $7.8 billion in 2009 to $14.8 billion in 2014 and about 70% are finished goods. Switzerland imported over $2 billion worth of gold from Ghana in 2016 alone for conversion to finished products for the world market. This shows an overwhelming increase of about $90 million dollars over the 2015 figure of $1 billion. The new government must endeavour to stabilising the economy and laying the best foundation for a sustainable, accelerated and job creating agro-based industrial growth.

COMMENTARY
In Ghana, the Government’s role in agriculture over the years has been extensive as reflected in the public expenditures and programmes until the adoption of the Structural Adjustment Programme in 1983. During that period, prior to the Sector Agricultural Policy (SAP), the BOG initiated a number of projects in line with the intervention policies of the day, intended to boost the agricultural sector of the economy. These policies led to the implementation of agricultural development schemes such as the Cocoa Bill Financing Scheme, Grains Bill Financing Scheme, Grains Warehousing Company. Other Bank of Ghana Agricultural projects include, Shai Hills Cattle Ranch, Agricultural Development Company (ADC), Wulugu Livestock Company, and the Jukwa, Okumanin, Fosu and Akwamsrerm (JoFA) Project. With the exception of the JOFA project, which was partially successful, the other projects did not achieve their set objectives due to inappropriate policies adopted by their managements. (Agriculture Sector policy-BOG, 2003)

For the implementation of programmes and activities in the cocoa, livestock and the plant ecology in 2017, an amount of GH₵501,501,708.00 has been allocated. Out of this, GH₵322,094,227.00 is from the government of Ghana, GH₵4,065,650.00 is internally generated fund and GH₵175,341,831.00 is from Development Partners. Local Poultry production to meet domestic demand as against high imports of frozen chicken was silent in the budget. There were no estimated outturns on expenditure in the sub-sector. The Savannah Accelerated Development Agency (SADA) also failed to be mentioned as an agency to see to the implementation of major agricultural programmes in the Northern Sector. SADA is heavily donor funded as an autonomous agency to boost development with its action plan but their needs were absent to be addressed.

Most agricultural projects depended heavily on the Ministry of Agriculture mediatorships resulting in top-down planning and implementation, less satisfactory relevance and cost-effectiveness and poor ownership of the programmes by the beneficiaries. These ‘’monocultural’’ government interventions have taken place year after year and the 2017 budget failed to give meaningful structural operational system to avert the ulcerations. From the 2017 Budget, GH₵52,706,712.00 has been allocated for the fishery sector of which GH₵28,857,495.00 is from the Government of Ghana, GH₵11,875,210.00 is internally generated funds (IGF), and GH₵11,974,008.00 is from Development Partners. With this, an amount of $500 million is expected from the shrimps, Mollusca, clams and tilapia earnings and estimated amount of $42 million net savings in the aquaculture production. The central government is funding more than 50% of the allocated money to the ministry and about 26% from donors and 24% from IGF.

To ensure a lasting sustainability of new projects in a decentralized manner, with most of the planning, implementation and decision-making taking place at the district level, the private sector must be allowed to play a major role to squeezing out the best tasteful liquid from the rock.

‘’In 2016, the Ministry will rehabilitate public laboratories at Koforidua, Kumasi, Tamale and Ho’’. This is a 2017 budget and not 2016 and that care must be taken with what is written to allow for accountability. Fish extension service delivery will focus on disease detection, prevention and control particularly in the Aquaculture sub-sector. Setting a fishery laboratory in Koforidua is a misplaced priority. No fishing activities go on in the Eastern capital to have such facility. The Afram Plains and akosombo are where active fishing activities takes place. Why in Koforidua?

Agricultural growth might be slow this year due to the prevailing adverse macroeconomic conditions and the IMF conditionalities unless otherwise there is production incentives induced by the economic reforms, in the medium Term. The agriculture sector should not be used as means for poverty reduction strategy done in the past but Modernization of agriculture based on rural development, agribusiness focussing on domestic consumption and export , easy access to lands as in property rights, assisting the private sector to increase food production through facilitating extensions, research and financial services, and irrigation facilities and improving on the use of technology in giving soil, soil fertility, improved seeds and weather information and communication and means to economic freedom in the long term. A national land policy is needed to demarcate lands for agriculture and real estate developments.

info@ilapighana.org
INSTITUTE FOR LIBERTY & POLICY INNOVATION (ILAPI-GHANA)

Tema.
www.ilapighana.org

 

Source: modernghana.com

Environment Minister visits Atomic Energy Commission

By: Christabel Addo, GNA


Accra, March 2, GNA –

Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), has paid a working visit to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC).

He called for closer cooperation with the Ministry in finding sustainable solutions to the challenges within the institution, in order to enhance their work, particularly in the area of research and innovation.

Prof. Frimpong Boateng was accompanied by Mr Alex Quainoo, the Director of Finance, MESTI and other Directors of the Ministry as well as Mr Oliver Boakye, a Special Assistant to the Minister.

The Minister said he was already familiar with the numerous challenges confronting the Commission citing the issue of sustainable research funding, the current massive encroachment on their lands, sustainable electricity supply, as very disturbing as these stifle the smooth operation of the institution.

He however commended the staff and management for working hard over the years to keep the Commission on its toes, and also for effectively and safely managing all radioactive sources in the country so that they did not get into wrong hands.

Prof. Frimpong Boateng said government has promised to enhance science and technology, making it part of its improved education priority, and as such would increase research funding from the current 0.25 per cent to 1.0 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, to encourage quality outputs.

He said it was an irony that in spite of the cravings that research institutions including GAEC, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, to go commercial, they were not supported in terms of local funding to do so.

He explained that since most of their funding often came from foreign sponsors, the institutions were obliged to hand over their findings to their benefactors who became the beneficiaries.

The Minister encouraged researcher scientists to develop innovative ways of attracting local funding to expand their work, so that their findings would be owned locally for sustainable development.

On the issue of stable electricity supply, Prof. Frimpong Boateng said he intended to initiate a discussion with the Energy Sector Ministry, to ensure a viable option from the current prepaid billing for sensitive research laboratories across the country, in order to save delicate and historical samples from irreparable damages.

Prof. Frimpong Boateng stated that all was set to inaugurate the Ghana National Space Science Institute at Kuntunse in the Greater Accra Region in May 2017, to provide spatial education, and secure Ghana’s cosmic environment among other things.

The success of these and other government projects, he said would require land for expansion, and appealed to traditional authorities as well as district assembles nationwide, to desist from the indiscriminate sale of state reserved lands, leaving no space for future national developments for the benefit of all Ghanaians.

He said research Institutions have lost nearly 80 per cent of their reserved research lands to encroachers, but gave the assurance that the Ministry was currently engaging with the Ministry of the Interior and the Inspector General of Police, to investigate what was happening to salvage the situation, ‘hoping there are no forces within to distract the process’.

Prof. Frimpong Boateng also gave the staff the opportunity to voice their concerns, and entertained suggestions on ways in which the overall management and functioning of the Agency could be improved.

Prof. Benjamin Jabez Nyarko, GAEC Director-General, pledged the commitment of management and staff to work harder towards achieving all the objects of the Institution in the years ahead.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Sadly, The 2017 Budget Statement Didn’t Mention Galamsey Even Once!

 

 

By: Cameron Duodu

The 2017 budget statement read to Parliament and the nation by the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, on 02 March 2017 can be described as a a very competent and optimistic one.

It was also very transparent. It gave a clear balance of payments position, without obliging us to go through many Tables to find it. The balance of payments is in this state (the Minister said):

QUOTE: “The balance of payments (BOP) turned surplus for the first time since 2011, due to [an] improved current account balance. Accordingly, there was a build-up in gross foreign assets, which supported the relative stability in the exchange rate.

The BOP surplus was US$247 million, compared to a deficit of US$129 million in 2015. The trade balance improved from a deficit of US$3.1bn in 2015 to a deficit of US$1.7bn in 2016, due to increased export receipts (by 7.2 percent) and a decline in imports (by 5.3 percent.)

The gross foreign assets at the end of December was estimated at US$6,161.80 million, from US$5,884.70 million at the end of December 2015, representing a build-up of US$277.07 million. This was sufficient to provide cover for 3.5 months of imports of goods and services, same as in December 2015.” UNQUOTE

I am impressed that the Minister did not seek to hide our relatively good external account situation in Tables in the appendix to the Budget Statement (since the figures reflect rather well on the John Mahama administration’s effort to bring the economy under control in 2016.) I hope the Minister will continue with this policy of being honest about the economy. You can’t quite hide an economy, yet some Finance Ministers foolishly pretend that they can “talk up” an economy even as it totters to the ground.

The Minister’s tax reductions were also a good sign that he has his ears to the ground. No wonder he is being serenaded in the markets by the Kayayei. I wouldn’t like to be in the position of his wife, at this rate!)

I was also impressed by the Minister’s willingness to share with the nation, certain figures that, hitherto, have tended to reside mainly in the vaults of the finance ministry and the Bank of Ghana.

The Minister revealed that:
QUOTE: “In 2016, GNPC lifted …. 5,856,921 barrels of oil (4,860,462 barrels of Jubilee oil and 996,459 barrels of TEN oil). Receipts from crude oil liftings ….amounted to US$207.79 million (GHȻ811.68 million). The proceeds from the 35th Jubilee and 1st TEN liftings in December 2016 were received in the first quarter of 2017. …. [However] actual petroleum receipts for 2016 fell short of the 2015 performance by 29.1 percent.” UNQUOTE

Figures of this nature should help to create optimism in the populace. We are getting this oil money at a time when oil prices are low on the international market. If and when oil prices improve, we most certainly can look forward to walking tall again. Even if we are only able to produce enough petroleum to meet our local needs, we should count ourselves lucky, for expenditure on petroleum imports is one of the driving forces of our decline into poverty as a nation.

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The Minister also – very commendably – told us the situation with regard to the prices we can expect from two of our main exports – cocoa and gold. This is something that has not been prominently depicted in official statements on the economy in recent years. The Minister said:

QUOTE: “Gold prices are expected to decline from an average of US$1,249 per fine ounce in 2016 to US$1,219 in 2017, due largely to an expected strengthening of the US dollar. According to the Commodity Markets Outlook by the World Bank, [the] cocoa price is projected to average about US$2,940 per tonne in 2017– up from US$2,850 in 2016.UNQUOTE

Of course, the cocoa farmers will be entitled to demand that the greater part of the slightly less than $100 per tonne increase in the world price will be passed on to them. In this connection, I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that the Ghana Cocobod spends far too much of our earnings from cocoa on just administering the exportation of the crop.

The way the Cocobod borrows heavily from external sources to buy the crop each year is also not in the best interests of the country. The loans attract a relatively high interest rate at a time when interest rates are very low the world over. Some Ghanaians suspect that the loans, in fact, do bring a lot of “commissions” to the “Yennkye nni” [Let’s share it and eat!] lot who arrange them.

Maybe the Government should, in fact, carry out a thorough review/ audit of the Cocobod’s operations. This has been left undone for years, because, fear that the Board might perform badly if it is interfered with, has made successive Governments leave the Cocobod virtually untouchable, although we all know that untouchability is a dangerous lever to corruption in a conscienceless society like ours.

Indeed, the time has come for the Government to examine the very raison d’etre of the Cocobod.

Why should we maintain a Cocobod that was established by the colonial Government in 1947 for its own nefarious purposes? Given the huge overhead costs that the Board recoups from the “operation allowance” given to it by the Government from our earnings from cocoa exports, is the Cocobod truly cost-effective?

Beyond that is the question of doing justice to the cocoa farmer. Fishermen sell their catch themselves through the open market. So do plantain farmers, cassava farmers, citrus and pine-apple farmers, and other agricultural producers.No marketing board intereferes with their operarions. So why should cocoa farmers alone be singled out and be made to serve as the unacknowledgedlabourers of the Cocobod (and by implication, the Government?)

The inherited system is convenient to the Government, to be sure, but an injustice cannot be perpetuated because its imposition was convenient to the dictator who imposed it. With modern data systems in existence that are capable of capturing sales, the main argument that the Government cannot collect taxes from cocoa farmers unless the Cocobod, a Government agency, sells their crop, is untenable and extremely backward. Can you see the German Government selling BMW and Mercedes cars for the manufacturers because they pay such huge taxes and the Government wants to take it at source? Or the French Government selling wine for the producers?

“FREE THE COCOA FARMER” I say to the Government. Otherwise its claim to be a liberal, business-friendly” Government, will be just hypocritical hot air.

The ECOWAS Common External Tariff system, which Ghana has joined, will (the Government recognises) be a “a major platform for the establishment of [a] Customs Union… and help address problems such as cross-border smuggling and dumping in the sub-region”. Surely, the elimination of smuggling should serve as a further incentive for the Government to allow cocoa farmers to sell their own crop?

“Change has come!” NPP followers believe. The Government says it’s in a hurry to transmit the effects of that change to the ordinary people. It should therefore not waste any time in turning the “change” into reality for our cocoa farmers.

Another aspect of the budget that disappointed me was the Minister’s inability to even outline or highlight the steps the Government plans to take to fight our biggest national calamity of the moment – galamsey.

If the Government as a whole does not make the anti-galamsey crusade its major plank, it will wake up one day to find that all our water-bodies are dead and that whatever social changes it seeks to bring to the rural areas – such as”one district one factory” – will be dead in the muddy-water, so to speak, and be still-born.

You just cannot mess about with your people’s drinking water. Mr Ken Ofori Atta mentioned his own pedigree, and that of his boss, President Akufo Addo, in his introduction to the budget statement. That pedigree carries a message back to them, namely, that the River Birem, which nurtured them when they were babies, must not be allowed to die. Right now, it is in its death-throes and crying out – like the Prah, the Offin, the Oti, the Tanoh, the Densu and many other rivers in Ghana — Grand-children of the Oforipanin Stool, now that you have got power, do not turn a deaf ear to the cries of agony of your country’s Sacred Rivers! If YOU of all people close your ears to our cries, to whom shall we turn next?” Would Danquah allow it? Would Paa willy allow it? Would Barfuor Osei Akoto allow it?

As the Twi proverb has it, “Na asem se ber!” (A word to the wise is enough).

 

Source: modernghana.com

‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ to begin with GHc 560m cost

 

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government’s flagship agriculture policy, “Planting for Food and Jobs” will begin with a cost GHc 560 million.

This is according to the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who said 200,000 farmers have already been recruited for the exercise which is expected to take off in March 2017, ahead of the new farming season.

Dr. Afriyie Akoto announced this policy at the annual New Year School and Conference of the University of Ghana earlier in 2017 and speaking to Citi News, he said a lot more farmers will be roped into the programme as it develops.

GHc 1.3 bn to be generated for farmers
He said the policy was “going to generate GHc 1.3 billion for the participating farmers and also create 750,000 jobs and this is involving maize, rice, soya, sorghum and vegetable [cultivation] for the first year.”

“In 2018, we are going to expand this. Don’t forget we have five million farmers and fishermen in this country. We have started with 200,000 as a pilot and in 2018, we are going to expand this program considerably to involve nearly a million farmers.”

Dr. Afriyie Akoto has said the “Planting for Food and Jobs” campaign is designed to encourage citizens, both urban and rural, to take up farming as a full time and part time activity.

It has been structured along the lines of the “Operation Feed Yourself” programme from the 1970s.

The Operation Feed Yourself campaign was launched in 1972 to make Ghana self-sufficient in food supply though it encountered significant shortcomings. But the government, however, believes the objectives of the Operation Feed Yourself campaign will be revived through the new campaign.

Though the “Planting for Food and Jobs” pilot only involves the cultivation of rice, soya beans, sorghum and vegetables, other crops will be adopted in subsequent years.

 

Source : modernghana.com

Planting for Food and Jobs

It is often said that agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Facts and figures from our markets these days do not appear to support this assertion anymore. Declines in investments on the agriculture front over the years have resulted in a scenario, where most of our daily food supplements originate from outside the four walls of the country.

At markets, especially in Accra and other urban centres, it is disheartening to be told that crabs, for instance, come from Togo and Benin. Many Ghanaians may not be aware, but these days, plantain, cocoyam and snails are brought in from Cote d’Ivoire. onions and tomatoes trace their origins to the drought-prone countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

In plain language, we have not done well for ourselves. And that tells much about why our local currency, the cedi, is under so much pressure. Apparently, the new administration of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo does not only intend to reverse these negative trends in agriculture. The New Patriotic Party intends to exploit food production in this country as stimulus to create jobs.

At the head office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Accra, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the sector Minister, is leading a group of technocrats to unveil a comprehensive national programme to get all Ghanaians to grow food.

Dubbed: ‘Planting for Food and Jobs,’ the campaign aims at promoting “growth in food production, and to create jobs across the country for the teeming youth.” Under the programme to be launched by the Head of State, “all Ghanaians are encouraged to grow some cereals or vegetables on their farms or backyards.” In addition, all institutions, private and public, are to be encouraged to set up their own farms.

All the 216 District Assemblies are to drive the campaign in their localities, in collaboration with members of Parliament and departments of agriculture in their various localities. It is an all hands on deck approach along the lines of the Operation Feed Yourself and Industries concept introduced by the Acheampong regime in the early 1970s.

The Chronicle buys into the idea, and urges all Ghanaians to be willing participants of this endeavour to grow food for local consumption, and stop the slide of the cedi through food imports.

We are told, for instance, that under the programme, the production of maize, the stable food of all Ghanaians is expected increase by 30 percent. Rice will experience a total of nearly 50 percent boost in local production. Soybean, Sorghum and vegetables like tomato, onion and chili, must be produced in the back-garden, we are being urged.

We do not need any ghost to pontificate on the need to grow food to feed ourselves. The Chronicle is thrilled at the idea that there would be jobs for Agriculture Extension Officers, who have been trained at the expense of the state, and are now idling in their houses.

This country must return to the immediate post-independent era, when Ghana depended mostly on food grown from within to feed ourselves. The ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign, we dare state, ties in perfectly with the presidential directive on One District One Factory, in the sense that the abundance of food lends itself to agro-processing and the need to establish factories to process the surplus.

The launch of the new policy could also influence the concept of One Village One Dam, not only in the northern parts of the country, but perhaps, in the semi-arid coastal belt and other drought-prone areas of this country.

We would like to believe that like The Chronicle, most Ghanaians are waiting for the launch of the new agrarian reforms with bated breaths. We have to feed ourselves. And that means being active participants in the programme.

 

South Africa: Is ‘About 40 Percent’ of Johannesburg’s Water Used to Irrigate Gardens?

A Johannesburg mayoral committee member has claimed that “about 40%” of the city’s water is used to irrigate gardens. While South Africans need to be serious about saving water, Anthony Still’s claim is unproven.

Speaking on Radio 702, member of the mayoral committee for environment and infrastructure services in Johannesburg told listeners that “about 40% of the water that is used in Joburg is used on irrigating gardens”.

South Africa’s biggest city has to reduce water use by 15% due to the country’s ongoing drought. Anthony Still said to achieve this, residents would have to change their water use patterns.

“If you look at where we are going to have to get this 15% savings in total water use… ” Still told listeners, “it’s from garden irrigation that we got to get it.”

While South Africa’s water-stressed position remains evident, proper solutions need to be built on facts. Two of our readers challenged us to #AfricaCheckIt, so we went looking for the source of the 40% figure.

Different versions of the claim

Janette Koboekae (31) collects water from one of the few communal water taps available to the residents of the Zandspruit informal settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Photo: AFP/MUJAHID SAFODIEN

To start off, there are different versions of this claim. While Still implied that 40% of total water use in Johannesburg is for gardening purposes – as tweeted by Johannesburg Water and the City of Joburg – he said in a later media release that “more than 40% of potable water in Gauteng is used for gardening purposes”.

Still’s spokesman Anda Mbikwana referred us to Johannesburg Water where executive manager for marketing and stakeholder relations, Hilgard Matthews, told us that the “40% speaks to households” only. This is how Johannesburg Water phrased it in some tweets.

Households, businesses and industrial customers buy almost two-thirds of the water Rand Water supplies to Johannesburg Water, Matthews explained. (Note: The utility’s latest available annual report shows that it received no income for 35.8% of its water in the 2014/15 financial year. This is called “non-revenue” water and included physical losses at 16% of the total water supplied to Johannesburg Water.)

However, the utility does not report data for household, business or industrial customers separately. To provide such a breakdown, the utility would “need to look at the tariff codes to start splitting our billed volume into these categories and this will take some time”, Matthews said. (Note: We will update this report when they do.)

Because of this, it is impossible to say exactly how much of the city’s water goes to residential houses or how much is used for gardening.

So how did this claim come about?

Water use studied in Cape Town

Matthews directed Africa Check to a 2005 study, in which households were asked about their perceived water use, as the source of this statistic.

Carried out by a consulting engineering firm, 149 households in the City of Cape Town were surveyed either via the internet (32) or questionnaires handed out (117) in the suburbs of Mitchells Plain, Philippi, Athlone and Durbanville.

The study found that, on average, garden water use was “the most significant use overall” for respondents surveyed via the internet, who were “likely to be the higher income users”. It accounted for 37.6% of the total water these respondents estimated they used.

The study did not provide an estimate for the percentage of water used for gardening by people who received questionnaires by hand. These people were “assumed to be low-income users” by the researchers. It did note, however, that only 15% of households surveyed via hand-out questionnaires reported using water for gardens. In these cases the volume reported was minimal, at 100 litres.

No accurate water use studies available

When asked how the findings of a Cape Town study informed water use in Johannesburg, Matthews told us that water use patterns “remain the same” given similar demographics in the two cities. He told us that the high consumption reflected a lack of “financial appreciation for water” by consumers.

However, one of the authors of the 2005 study, Professor Heinz Jacobs, told Africa Check that while the claim “sounds quite reasonable”, he thought garden water use in Johannesburg would be lower than in Cape Town “due to the summer rainfall in Gauteng”.

Civil engineer and adjunct professor at the University of the Witwatersrand’s school of governance, Mike Muller, told Africa Check that while “the claim would seem reasonable” there is no data to support it.

Jacobs said that data of this nature has typically been mined from monthly water consumption records from municipal consumer meters, or consumer surveys. But these “are notoriously inaccurate”, he said.

More accurate methods to determine the different purposes a household uses water for are costly and therefore studies of this kind have not yet been conducted in South Africa, Jacobs told us.

Conclusion: Claim that ‘about 40%’ of Joburg’s water is used to irrigate gardens unproven

Johannesburg’s mayoral committee member for environment and infrastructure services, Anthony Still, claimed that about 40% of water used in the city is for irrigating gardens.

Johannesburg Water said that the claim actually referred to household water use. The statistic appears to have originated from a 2005 study which surveyed 32 high-income users in Cape Town.

Experts told Africa Check that while this figure may seem reasonable, it remains unproven. Expensive studies would need to be carried out to verify it.

We’re guilty of environmental abuse; let’s change – Minister

 

Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology Innovation, on Monday asked Ghanaians to be safety conscious and change their attitudes for a safe environment for the wellbeing of all.

He said the survival of human kind was at much risk against the background of how careless people’s attitudes had been toward the environment over the years.

“If you look at what is happening to the environment, it is something like a self-inflicted injury,” the iconic cardiothoracic surgeon stated at a meeting with staff of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during a working visit to the Headquarters in Accra.

He explained:“We have to change our attitudes; there must be a change like President Akufo-Addo said, we should not be spectators but be active participants”.

“We know that our rivers are dead, some of them, we know that some of the rivers are dead; Offin, Ankobra, Pra Oda, there is no fish in them, in most part of the rivers.”

“And when you find animals and fish dying from our empty forests and dead rivers, it is only a question of time that it will reach the human beings.”

All the surface and ground water were also drying up, thus affecting the survival of the citizens in the surrounding communities, the Minister pointed out.

Prof Frimpong-Boateng said the negative attitudes of people, for instance, through mining, illegal logging, deforestation, erection of unauthorised masts, had led to many of the challenges facing the country today.

He said the issue of gas and gas stations and how gas cylinders were used and kept at home were bigger issues of concern, but more education would need to be carried out among the citizenry on the proper use and handling of such products to avoid disaster at homes and within the communities.

“I must stress that the problem is not with the gas stations alone, it is also about our attitude towards safety and improper handling of gas facilities in our homes,” he explained.

Speaking with so much passion, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said: “As Ghanaians we are more religious and we go to church so we should know that if you litter you are sinning against the environment and if you read the Bible in Revelation 11: 18, it indicates that when Jesus comes back he is going to judge those who have polluted the earth”.

He reminded the EPA officials that they had a major role to play in leading the crusade of keeping a safe environment.

He said the issue of Gender and the Environment; where women had to survive through the burning of charcoal, could also be solved through the provision of appropriate technology to the by-products of crops such as groundnut husks and saw dust, coconut husks, maize stocks and leaves, to stop the cutting down of trees to burn charcoal.

“We have a better way of helping women who make charcoal in a place like Sissala in the Northern Region. The groundnut husk and saw dust, maize stocks and leaves could be turned into charcoal.”

Mr John Pwamang, the Acting Executive Director of EPA, said the Agency was set to collaborate with the Government to improve the environment through partnership with stakeholders, such as the Ghana Standards Authority and Town and Country Planning.

He said the Agency was also ready to develop a five-year strategic plan of activities as it awaited the first State of the Nation Address by the President, which would give the direction as to how the country would move towards its general development.

Mr Pwamang said the issue of plastic waste and illegal mining were major on EPA’s agenda and that more efforts were being made to expedite actions to address them.

As part of the Minister’s visit, a staff durbar was held where the Minister interacted with the staff of the Agency to know their peculiar issues and challenges.

 

Source: ghanabusinessnews.com

Greater Accra Minister-Designate Pledges To Rid Dirty Accra Of Filth

 

Greater Accra Regional designate, Ishmael Ashitey, says his biggest vision when approved by Parliament and subsequently sworn into office by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is to rid the capital city of filth.

“Accra”, he noted “is very dirty” and posing a lot of health hazards to the citizenry.

“Mr. Chairman, the biggest vision I have got is to see how to tackle this problem”, he added.

Mr. Ashitey made this observation when he took his turn at the Appointments Committee of Parliament for a public hearing over issues related to the ministry he has been designated to by the President.

The capital city generates about 3,000 metric tonnes of garbage daily.

The city authority is able to collect 2,500 metric tonnes, leaving a deficit of 500 metric tonnes which poses lots of challenges to people.

But the former Member of Parliament for Tema East, commenting further said he will team up with the Sanitation and Water Resources Minister to ensure that the deficit of 500 metric tonnes of waste is addressed.

He believes that one of the things that will be used to measure his performance is how best he will tackle the sanitation issue in the capital city.

“It is one area that I am going to look at and look at very well. In Greater Accra, you have to be doing a lot of sanitation to be able to perform because like I said Accra is very dirty so if you want to improve life in Accra you have to handle the sanitation aspect of it. I will work together with the Sanitation Minister to achieve this”, he said.

When asked where he will get the funds to pursue his vision, he noted that “when government is able to spend wisely, we will be able to get money to tackle the sanitation issue”.

 

Source: modernghana.com

The law must deal with illegal fishers – Fisheries Minister-designate

 

The laws of Ghana do not allow for light fishing and the security agencies must deal ruthlessly with anyone caught engaging in it, Madam Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, has warned.

The warning comes in the wake of the use of light to attract fish and other illegal means of fishing including the use of dynamites, all negatively affecting the fishing industry in Ghana.

She said the practice had depleted the nation’s fish stock with an attendant rise in the nation’s fish import bill.

Appearing before the Appointment Committee of Parliament on Thursday the Minister designate said the illegal practice was done with aggregating device.

After the fishes have been aggregated some obnoxious chemicals, dynamites are poured on the fish in order to capture all the fishes at once.

“This is poisonous to the consumer,” she said and that the Ministry would resource the Ghana Navy with patrol boats to intensify patrols in Ghanaian waters and check the practice.

She announced a Fisheries Management Plan that is being worked on to deregulate the powers of the Fisheries Commission into the hands of the fisher folks to empower them to be watch-dogs and arrest colleague fishers who are engaged in the practice.

She said the NPP Government’s commitment to building landing beaches at Keta Krowor, James Town and 11 other locations across the country.

On premix fuel, the nominee said she was aware of the difficulties with its distribution and would ensure that the laws in the procurement and distribution of premix fuel were enforced.

“We will employ people who will go round the regions to ensure that when the fuel is procured and designated for a particular region, it gets there,” the Minister Designate said.

She announced that investors who would want to enter into pond culture would go for an environmental safety certificate.

On tidal waves, the Minister Designate said the fisher folks would be educated on what to expect and how to handle their equipment when there was tidal waves.

She complained about pair trawlers who went beyond the stipulated industrial fishing all the way in the 30 metre depth breaching laws and called for the necessary action to be taken against such persons.

 

Source: ghanabusinessnews.com

1,300 cartons of unwholesome tilapia destroyed at Kpone

The fish being gathered for destruction at the Kpone Landfill site.

 

By: Benjamin Glover

 

Large quantities of unwholesome tilapia were yesterday destroyed at the Kpone dumping site in Tema.The 1,300 cartons of frozen tilapia, each weighing 10 kilograms, were impounded at the Trust Link Cold Store by a team led by the National Coordinator of the Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), Capt. Emmanuel Kwafo.

Other members were personnel from the Fisheries Commission, Marine Police and the Food and Drugs Authority.

They later supervised the destruction of the fish at the Kpone dumping site after obtaining a court order from the Tema High Court.

Importation

The consignment, said to have been imported into the country by Mr Zhang Ming, a Chinese, allegedly bore no dates of manufacture and expiration or country of origin. Mr Ming, who was arrested, has since been granted police enquiry bail.

Samples

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Head of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Fisheries Commission, Mr Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu, said prior to the destruction of the fish, a test conducted by the FDA on samples of the tilapia found them to be unwholesome.

According to him, per section 132 (2) of the Public Health Act,  Act 851 of 2012, the authorities had to dispose of the consignment.

Destruction

Mr Baidoo-Tsibu said after having gone through the necessary legal requirements, the unwholesome fish were carted to the Kpone dumping site and under the supervision of  the Chief Supervisor at the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, Mr Percy Azanlerigu, the fish were destroyed.

He explained that the exercise by the team formed part of efforts to fight illegal importation and sale of tilapia in the country.

 

Source: graphic.com.gh