The immediate past Minister of Food and Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, will today, March 13, 2023, at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), deliver a public lecture on “The future of the economy of Ghana”.
The event will kick-start in the afternoon at about 14:00 GMT and will see the former agriculture minister share insights into building the agricultural sector into a bedrock for financing the development of other sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
At an encounter with a group of Editors and Senior Journalists in Accra on Saturday, March 11, 2023, Dr. Akoto said the potential in the agricultural sector is huge, believing that the sector has the prospect to turn around the fortunes of Ghana and permanently eliminate the syndrome of going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) whenever there is distress in the economy.
Dr. Akoto who has set his eyes on the flag bearer position of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) but is yet to officially declare his intention to contest, noted that at the core of his vision for Ghana when given the nod to lead the UP Tradition and subsequently becomes the President of the Republic, is the prioritization of public resources to the agricultural sector.
“Agriculture by far has the biggest potential to turn around the fortunes of this country. It is not gold or oil or any other resource. The potential is so huge. We have a very fortunate situation and you may not be aware. There is something I’ve learned about Ghanaian farmers. You give them the smallest incentives and they will run a mile with it and that is a resource we need to exploit to the earth. If we can exploit the willingness of the Ghanaian farmer, our country will be great”, he noted.
He added, “Look at what our farmers have done with the Planting for Food and Jobs by providing them subsidies – seed and fertilizer? And it is not all the farmers. In 2018, I conducted an agricultural census to count the number of farmers in Ghana which has never been done for 38 years.
“We came up with 3.1 million professional farmers in this country. Planting for Food and Jobs by 2021 had benefitted 1.7 million professional farmers – that is half of the farmers’ population and even with half, look at what has happened to Ghana’s agriculture. In 2021, agriculture had the highest growth in the 4th Republic, 8.4%. In the eye of the storm of COVID-19 in the year 2020, when all countries were down, Ghana’s agricultural sector growth was 7.4%.
“The Planting for Food and Jobs was working and kept Ghana going. The Ghanaian farmer is a resource sitting and waiting to be exploited and for me, the future of this country is to give incentives to these farmers for them to produce the surpluses and foreign exchanges to finance our industrial development; our education; our hospitals, health and infrastructure and all those things. We can do it”.
To Dr. Akoto, also a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso in the Ashanti Region, said the success story of the Planting for Food and Jobs is attributed to the prioritization of public resources to the agricultural sector by the NPP government led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Monday’s public lecture, he noted, will share more light on the success story of the Planting for Food and Jobs and other initiatives he executed as political head of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The event will also see him share with the public the potential that exists in other agricultural initiatives, which he believes could contribute immensely to turning around the fortunes of Ghana.