Farmers Peeved at Agric Minister, Threaten Strike

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A group of farmers calling itself the Concerned Farmers Association, has threatened to demonstrate in the coming days over what its members describe as the government’s poor handling of the agriculture sector.

According to the farmers, the Planting for Food & Jobs programme is one of the poorly executed policies of the government, and have, thus, called on the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to probe Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto for causing financial loss to the state.

Speaking on Tuesday, 13 November 2018 at the Minority Caucus’ roundtable on the economy ahead of the 2019 budget presentation on Thursday, 15 November 2018, the president of the association, Nana Oboadee Boahene Bonsu, accused Dr Afriyie Akoto of disrespecting farmers.

He said: “The policies of this government, that is the NPP government, is a total failure and a disgrace to our country Ghana. When we met the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Afriyie Akoto in his office, he told us he only has 45 minutes to attend to us because he has a very important meeting to attend to in his office… But MoFA can’t do anything without [us], the farmers; without farmers, there is no MoFA.

“We have constitutionally mandated organization; that is the Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen, and MoFA can’t do anything without them, but at the end of the day the minister told us bluntly that: ‘I can’t deal with you people, go to your villages, we’ll announce the Planting for Food & Jobs policy and let your farmers go and register’. And my question is: ‘I want parliament to invite Dr Afriyie Akoto to explain how he spent [proceeds] from the first Planting for Food & Jobs programme because there was a publication that farmers owe the government.

“It was an advice that we, farmers, wanted to give to him that: ‘You can’t deal with individual farmers, we are in groups; instead of you to deal with the groups, you’re dealing with individual farmers, so, in this case, the MoFA has caused financial loss to the state.”

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According to Mr Bonsu, fertilisers given to cocoa farmers were delayed and will expire this month.

“How can we live in a country that the minister is so arrogant? He has no respect for farmers. All the FBOs are quiet because Dr Afriyie Akoto feels he is untouchable, and bad things are happening within the farming industry and everybody is quiet about it,” he bemoaned.

Mr Bonsu further alleged that a sum of “$21 million was given to Dr Afriyie Akoto to combat this armyworm [invasion] and he lied to us, the farmers, that: ‘I have conquered armyworms’, and later, he came to us telling us the armyworms have come to stay.

“A developing country like Ghana, how can we spend $21 million just to fight armyworms? We, the farmers, want accountability because the armyworms are still around. Last year, during the Farmers Day celebration, they told us they don’t have money. How can you do a programme without a budget? We, the farmers, want to know the monies spent on the Farmers Day celebration last year. This year’s Farmers Day, the same thing is happening, and in Tamale, farmers have been asked to pay GHS500 for just exhibition…”

“So, this government and Dr Afriyie Akoto have disgraced Ghana totally so far as agriculture is concerned.”

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