The immediate-past Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has said that his agenda to be President of the Republic of Ghana is to exploit the prospects of the four new institutions he has assisted in establishing to wean the country off the IMF and other international donor bodies.
The institutions, he noted, are the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), Grains Development Authority (GDA), Horticultural Development Authority (HDA) and the Poultry Development Authority (PDA).
Interacting with Asaase Radio on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, on why he wanted to be President, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said the four new institutions, if properly taken care of and the prospects well exploited, would give Ghana a new look, where the economic foundation would be stronger to withstand any shock that may come its way, and also generate enough revenue to fund other developmental projects.
However, he said, for him to achieve this, he must first cross the hurdle of the flagbearer contest of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), a position he was vehemently lacing his boots to contest for.
A similar remark he made when he appeared on PM Express on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, has attracted some criticisms from his political opponents, with many trolling him on social media on where his allegiance would be.
But, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said he was unfazed by the negative criticisms, only that it should be constructive. He added that he was focused on going through the process, believing that when he gets the nod to lead the NPP, and subsequently become the President of the Republic, agriculture would be his number one priority.
“There is something unique about the Akufo-Addo government. [A] Major part of the foundation has been laid. An institution like COCOBOD – from 1947 no commodity authority had been created, but now we have the Tree Crop Development Authority.
We have the Grains Development Authority, which is in Parliament, [and] expected to be passed into law.
We have the Horticultural Development Authority and the Poultry Development Authority to specifically tackle the areas of development in these sub-sectors. These are specific areas that are going to be the new phase in our development.
I think that if we look well after these institutions, Ghana would be out of the clutches of the IMF and other international donors forever and ever, because we would be able to generate all the foreign exchange and other local resources to fund development in industry, the social sectors of the economy like health, education and infrastructure,” he noted.
He added: “We have the capacity in agriculture to do that. So, we need to take care of that, and we need to bring these into being. This is my agenda to be President of Ghana – to drive this new face of our development, based on the foundation that we have laid.”
Explaining the rationale behind his decision, he said the Tree Crop Development Authority, for instance, when properly developed, would generate a combined potential of export earnings of between US$6 to US$12 billion annually after 8-10 years of implementation.
The Grains Development Authority, on the other hand, would provide support to farmers and buy the excesses and store it for use in the lean season.
When quizzed on why there would be much focus on the agricultural sector more than the other sectors of the economy, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, also a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso, said the other sectors would be given equal attention, but noted that he would prioritise the allocation of funding to the agricultural sector in order to generate more revenue to fund the others.
“The other sectors need funding. We’ve been borrowing to fund these sectors and that is why every now and then, we find ourselves in the clutches of the IMF. We’ve been to the IMF seventeen (17) times in our 66-year history and I want to make sure that this does not happen again. And we can only do so with these new face institutions.
Cote D’Ivoire with five tree crops of cashew, cocoa, coffee, palm-oil and rubber are doing US$7 to 8 billion a year. Ghana with the same crops is giving us less than US$2billion and we have all the endowments than Cote D’Ivoire in these areas,” he underscored.
In the view of Dr. Afriyie Akoto, the establishment of the four new institutions will propel agriculture to greater heights such that there would be enough to fund the other sectors of the Ghanaian economy without having to go and borrow money that comes with huge interest rate.
He said for more than 100 years, Ghana has been mining gold and some other mineral resources but the change effect has been slow, leading to the country into the hands of the Bretton Woods institution whenever there is a distress in the economy.
“From what I have seen in six years managing the agricultural sector, I am confident that the Ghanaian farmer can deliver us forever from the clutches of the IMF. When you give the Ghanaian farmer incentives in the form of farming inputs and fertilizer, he goes the extra mile to produce more and that is what I will encourage when I become President,” he noted.
By Stephen Odoi-Larbi