Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the revival of Ghana’s declining agricultural sector will be a major area of priority under his government because the role of agriculture in transforming the economy and nation is potentially tremendous.
According to the 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, if the country is to make any meaningful change in the lives of the people, “our efforts must be directed at this sector. The majority of people can only feel a change in their lives when we develop agriculture.”
Notwithstanding Ghana’s agricultural sector barely growing currently at 0.04%, as opposed to a growth rate of 7.4% at the end of 2008 when the NPP left office, Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that the NPP has well-thought out policies and programmes to raise agriculture to a higher plane, so as to be able to improve on the quality of life of Ghanaians.
One such policy, he noted, will be an aggressive diversification of agricultural products, akin to the developments in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire. The diversification of Ivorian agriculture, through the cultivation of 5 major cash crops (cocoa, cotton, cashew, oil palm and coffee), the NPP flagbearer explained, has delivered $12 billion in export revenues for Cote d’Ivoire. Ghana, on the other hand, earns some $2 billion from agricultural exports, largely from the sale of cocoa.
This statistic, Nana Akufo-Addo said, will change under his administration.
The NPP flagbearer made this known when he toured the Jaman North constituency, in the Brong Ahafo region, on Friday, March 18, 2016.
With cashew farming being the mainstay of residents in the constituency, and, indeed, a major source of income for thousands of farmers in 7 out of 10 regions in the country, Nana Akufo-Addo assured that his government will put in place measures to transform cashew into a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner for the country.
The same priority attention that has been given to the cultivation of cocoa over the years will be given to production of cashew, he stressed.
To this end, Nana Akufo-Addo assured cashew farmers in the country that his government will establish a Cashew Marketing Board (CMB), akin to the Cocoa Marketing Board (COCOBOD), which will guarantee a producer price for famers, as well as provide ready market for their produce. In addition, the Board will encourage the production of cashew as well as the provision of research, extension, internal and external marketing, and quality control services.
His call comes at a time when the Mahama government has placed a ban on the export of cashew nuts from Ghana, effective March 31 to May 31, resulting in cashew exporters, as well as Members of Parliament, calling on government to review the ban.
The purpose of the establishment of the CMB, Nana Akufo-Addo explained, is to increase the production of cashew to at least 250,000 metric tonnes within four years, as opposed to the 2015 production levels which stand at some 68,000 metric tonnes.
“The NPP’s plans for the cashew industry, should Ghanaians give us their mandate, will bring a vast improvement in the lives of cashew farmers in every part of the country. What government does for cocoa farmers, my government will do the same for cashew farmers,” he added.
Former presidential aspirant and former Minister for Trade, Industry and Presidential Special Initiatives, Alan Kyerematen, who accompanied the NPP flagbearer on his tour of the constituency, reiterated that an Akufo-Addo-led NPP government will also facilitate the setting up of agro-industries in the Brong Ahafo region to add value to agricultural produce, including cashew.
“On the back of an expanding and diversified agriculture, we will set Ghana on a solid platform for industrialisation, which will see economic growth matched by job creation,” he added.