Prioritising agriculture is the panacea for the country weaning itself off the clutches of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the immediate past Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has stated.
“I’m saying that we need to prioritise agriculture in terms of public allocation of funds. Our budget should prioritise agriculture and if we do that, the farmers will be able to produce so much for export and food security that we would not need to go and borrow money to finance our debts,” he said.
Dr Akoto, who was sharing his vision with the Daily Graphic in an interview, said if the country should prioritise agriculture, “we should be able to get money to fund all our development activities including industrialisation, education, health, infrastructure and all those needs.”
He said if attention was paid to the tree crop sector alone, the country would be able to generate enough money for all her developmental needs.
Dr Akoto said it was in that vein that he championed the establishment of the Tree Crops Development Authority, which was currently established under an act of Parliament, Act 2019, (Act 1010).
“The body itself, which is headquartered in Kumasi, was inaugurated by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in 2020. The only problem is that the seed fund that is required for them to take off is not adequate enough.
“Out of $5 million yearly for three years making $15 million needed for them to really take off, as we speak, they are in their third year but only $1.3 million has been disbursed,” said describing the TCDA as having the potential of raking in revenue between $6 billion and $12 billion.
Dr Akoto said, for instance, that Ivory Coast, with five commercial tree crops of cocoa, coffee, cashew, oil palm and rubber, was generating between $6 billion and $8 billion annually.
He said, interestingly, the tree crops under the TCDA, cashew, rubber, oil palm, mango, coconut and shea had a better chance of raking in more because Ghana had better and more land as compared to Ivory Coast.
Dr Akoto expressed regret that the TCDA could not take off properly because of the challenges that it was confronted with, saying that with the $1.3 billion, the TCDA could not function the way it should with the projected $15 million.
“So, when I talk about prioritising agric, this a classic example,” the former minister said
Asked about his political ambition, Dr Akoto said, “I want to bear the flag of this party to give me the opportunity to bring about the necessary changes in this party to stand us in a good position to win the 2024 December election.”
“Basically, I’m in this race as a result of what I observed to be things which were not well managed in the party that nearly cost us in the 2020 election,” he said.
He expressed concern that during the campaigns leading to the 2020 election, it came out clearly that there were lots of conflicts among party executives, district chief executives and the Members of Parliament (MPs).
“Apart from the conflict, a lot of the party people on the ground, throughout the country, are complaining about lack of employment and all kinds of complaints from the base all the way to the top,” he stated, adding that since his resignation from office, I used the time to consult stakeholders as to what requirements were needed to win the 2024 general election.