Acquires 12,000 acres of land free of charge

From Edmond Gyebi, Tamale

President Atta Mills

By the time you encounter President John Evans Atta Mills next year, you might not only be accosting the Head of State of the Republic of Ghana, but are likely to be in audience with one of the top commercial farmers the world could offer.
Credible information reaching The Chronicle indicates that President John Evans Atta Mills has an eye on commercial farming in the near future, even as he contemplates putting his name on the ballot paper to contest the 2012 presidential elections.
Aides are already describing the venture in the Northern Region as a means of disabusing the minds of Ghanaians, especially, the youth, who think farming is a preserve for only the rural poor.
The Chronicle can report authoritatively that the occupant of Government House has already freely acquired over 12,000 acres of land at Namburugu, a rice producing community in the Karaga District of Northern Region, to cultivate rice and maize for local consumption, and for export,
The project, scheduled to begin in March 2011, would offer job opportunities to a large number of idle youth in Karaga and its surrounding districts, and is already being flagged in Karaga and surrounding areas as a venture that would offer jobs to many unemployed youth in the district, and many areas in the deprived north.
The Atta Mills’ Agric Estate, locally named ‘Baymoni’, would have residential accommodation for some core workers.
The farm will also have a garage for tractors, combine harvesters, rice processing, and other agricultural machinery, including a repair centre and storage facilities.
The Chronicle gathered that the Chief of Karaga, Naa Mahama Adam, released the 12,000 acres of land free of charge to the President, after being briefed on President Mills’ “good vision”.
The Karaga District Chief Executive (DCE), Issah Sulemana Hussein, expressed the appreciation of the Chiefs and people in the district to the President in a chat with The Chronicle, for what he called “a nice vision.”
According to the DCE, the presidential farm would not only create jobs, but also complement Ghana’s vision of becoming one of the leading rice producing countries in the world.
In what was an obvious image building exercise in the face of possible charge of abuse of incumbency on the part of the Prof. Atta Mills, the President’s representative in the district said President Mills did not use his position to acquire the 12,000 acre land from the Karaga Chief. It was willingly given by the Chief and his elders, who share in his Presidential farming vision.
The DCE stated that President Mills had already sent two delegations to the Chief to formalise the acquisition process, and to ascertain whether the Chief’s decision to offer the land free of charge was real.
The good news, the DCE claimed, was that the Chief was demanding that the President should commence work before the scheduled period (March 2011).
He said the presidential search for fertile land for rice cultivation began in 2009, immediately after assuming duty as head of Governance and Administration in this country. The Karaga venture was chosen, due to its viability in rice cultivation.
The Karaga DCE thanked President John Mills for choosing Karaga for the project, with the expectation that it would reduce the high unemployment among the youth in the district.
Issah Hussein was also optimistic that the company would attract more investors to Karaga to improve the socio-economic fortunes of the people.
He, therefore, appealed to residents of Karaga to co-exist peacefully for the government and its development partners to broaden the district’s economic growth.
Meanwhile, efforts to speak with the Karaga Chief, Naa Mahama Adam, proved difficult. Yesterday, for instance, the traditional overlord of the area was chairing a ceremony to mark this year’s World Aids Day, but a source at his palace confirmed the release of the land to the President, as it was going to benefit the local people, he explained.

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