The vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has asserted the agriculture sector has crumpled under the watch of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and President John Dramani Mahama. Dr Mahamudu Bawumia argued one of Ghana’s mainstays – cocoa - has suffered adversely since the NDC party took over the reins of governance.
“The NDC administration’s management of the all-important cocoa industry has been nothing short of a disaster,” the former deputy governor of the Central Bank said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
“The country attained a historical peak production of just over one million metric tonnes of cocoa in the 2010/2011 year.”
However, he attributed the feat to policies implemented by the then John Kufuor administration.
“This achievement was a direct result of policies and projects (Mass Spraying and Hi-tech) initiated and implemented by the NPP administration. With these twin projects cocoa production more than doubled in just two years, from 341,000 metric tonnes in 2001/2002 to 737,000 metric tonnes by 2003/2004; and then to one million metric tonnes in 2010/2011,” Dr Bawumia opined.
He added: “Agriculture is stagnating and has since 2008 underperformed. Real growth in Agriculture tumbled from 7.4% in 2008 to 7.2 in 2009 through 5.3% in 2010; 0.8 in 2011; 2.3% in 2012; 5% in 2013; 4.6 in 2014 and now the rock-bottom figure of 0.04% for 2015. Indeed the crops sub-sector, the dominant factor in agriculture, experienced a negative growth rate, i.e. -1.7%.
“The stagnation in Agriculture found expression in the importation of $1.5 billion of food stuff into the country in 2014 against a food import bill of $600 million in 2008. The import of fish, poultry, tomatoes, cooking oil, have all doubled between 2008 and 2015.
“In 2009 government promised to commence with 5000 hectares. This same figure of 5000 hectares was promised again in 2010. In 2011, government pledged to irrigate 10,000 hectares. This figure grew to 11,000 hectares in 2012. In 2013 and 2014 the Afram Plains and Accra Plains irrigation were dropped only to surface in the 2015 budget only for mention. In 2016 they have again been dropped.”
“The Accra Plains and Afram Plains irrigation projects which have the potential of positively impacting food security for the nation and providing jobs for the teeming youth have remained on the books. The 2009 – 2012 budget statements all mentioned these two projects. (ref. par. 347 of 2015 Budget). In 2016 the two projects are not mentioned in the budget perhaps to emphasize the point that it was all a ruse.
“The production of basic food staples (cereals, legumes, roots and tubers) have all been stagnating. The huge yearly vacillations in outputs and the rising imports of rice from 395,400 metric tons in 2008 to 543,465 metric tons in 2011 and over 600,000 tonnes in 2013 for which alone the nation spent $374 million (Ref. Pg. 11 of 2014 State of the Nation Address) testify to the escalating food insecurity in the country,” Dr Bawumia added.
“The question we all have to ask is - how are we going to transform the economy if we continue to pursue policies that result in the stagnation of the agricultural sector? There is no transformation taking place in the agricultural sector under this NDC government. Certainly, Agriculture, the largest employer of the Ghanaian people, under this government has been deformed and not transformed.”