The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) has disputed claim by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that food was in abundance in Ghana last year.
Addressing the country during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of his second term on Tuesday in Parliament, Akufo-Addo said Ghana did not experience food shortage in 2020 in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic because of “the bold policies” implemented by his administration since 2017.
He said Ghana had been able to feed her citizens from what the country produced because of his government’s policies such as the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme, Rearing for Food and Jobs, the 1-Village-1-Dam initiative, 1-District-1-Warehouse policy, and the establishment of greenhouse villages.
But speaking to XYZ News, General Secretary of GAWU, Edward Kareweh disputed the claim and explained that Ghana still depended heavily on imports of foods from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, and Togo for daily consumption.
He said the recent protests by tomato marketers, importers and haulage drivers about highway robberies on the Ghana-Burkina Faso border indicated that Ghana could not produce tomatoes to feed the country.
“And that we are a net exporter of tomatoes, that can not be accepted,” Kareweh told XYZ news’ Wisdom Hededzorme.
He added that the escalating price of maize since last year indicate that maize was not produced in large quantities to take care of the country’s citizens.
“The price of maize last year 2020 March and that of 2021 March, the price is very,very high for 2021. It means there has been a tremendous increase price in the price of maize. We are also aware that poultry farmers could not also get the maize to buy and even when they got it, the price was exorbitant… and for that matter, per the government’s own statistics that maize [production] has been increased by 110% which has been doubled the percentage, certainly it would have driven down prices,” he stated.
Kareweh also noted that the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme is a bold initiative yet it still faced serious teething problems that appear ignored.
Asking the government to revive the programme to boost yield, Kareweh also urged the government to focus on agriculture and introduce more innovations to the sector to help create more jobs and ensure food security.
“I expect that the government increase budgetary allocation into agriculture and also to ensure that they put in measures to boost the sector,” he advised.
He further urged that going forward, there must be stringent measures to protect the fertilizer subsidy programme and the cocoa sector.
Meanwhile the Convention People’s Party (CPP) has also rejected the president’s claim on agriculture and abundance of food.
In a press statement signed by CPP General Secretary, Nana Yaa Jantuah, the party said its search has revealed that contrary to the view by the president that there was no food shortage in the year under review, Ghana was dependent on the importation of food, agricultural products (Rice, Maize, tomatoes), and poultry products (Chicken) to supplement local production.
“In the year 2020 there was a massive shortage of maize, tomatoes and basic food items in the country,” Jantuah said and added the President failed to state in clear terms the exact state of Ghana but rather engaged in “a repetition of recycled unfulfilled campaign promises.”
“The president failed to expatiate and address our ballooning national debt currently standing at approximately a whopping Two hundred and ninety – seven billion cedis (297.00 billion Ghana Cedis) which represent a close to 78% of our Gross Domestic Production (GDP)”, the statement stated.
The party added that “This fact alone is worrying because our true fiscal situation means that all the NPP so-called promises of projects and infrastructural developments are all rhetoric and cannot be done. It has come to the fore that this debt stock increased from One Hundred and Twenty Billion Ghana Cedis to present state.”