TODAY, THE boot is on the other foot. Advocates of Capitalism, being the doctrine of private ownership control and individual empowerment, are at the helm.
And so, the present Government must be too willing and proud to take advantage of the benefits inherent in the States Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125) enacted by Kwame Nkrumah which provides for the acquisition of lands by Government, in the national interest, whenever it appears to the President so to do. Just as every mineral is the property of Ghana and is vested in the President in trust for the people to enable the government issue prospecting, mining, dredging and water licenses to individuals. Against this backdrop, it is being suggested very strongly to the Government to create a land bank for distribution of lands to the youth, the unemployed (NABCO and all) and the entrepreneuring class to go back to the land, along the lines of Kibbutzim, to produce food to feed the nation and to export.
“Property Owning Democracy”- the tantalizing doctrine of the NPP, where are you?
Afterall, it was to respond to the rapid urbanization and growing unemployment bothersome that informed the concept underpinning the Brigade, which Nkrumah described as “an example of Human Capital Formation.”
It must be born in mind that, in every human situation, good or bad, the demands of the stomach come first. A hungry man is an angry man, as they say.
In 1972, a Colonel Kutu Acheampong took an unholy path to capture power from the legitimate rule of Dr. K.A Busia’s Progress Party Government, shouting from his rooftop that the nation was hungry and needed to be fed. On a mantra of “Operation Feed Yourself” (OFY), he launched a campaign for Ghanaians to grow more food, even their backyard. With the persuasive power of the message, people bought into it, and in just two years, food production had reached overflowing levels as to allow Ghana to feed itself and export some.
Cashing in on this success, the coupist now promoted himself to the highest position of a General in the Army, approvingly. Food politics has done it! And even up to now, Acheampong’s OFY success is often on the lips of many people.
“What you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts”, isn’t it?] Truly, this county cannot continue to rely on import of agricultural produce from far and near, to survive. It is a shame that we are presently getting our tomatoes from Burkina Faso, onions from Niger, cattle from Mali, cocoyam
from Cote d’lvoire, chicken from Europe, salt from Brazil, sugar from India and so on, to supplement what our traditional farmers are producing to feed us. It is a step in the wrong direction.
Ghana has all the ingredients to build a great agricultural nation, name it – arable lands, rivers, forest, manpower, weather, skills, knowledge and a craze for bush meat (Nwuramu nam).
A Government must be bold and solicitous enough to implement landmark projects that do make significant difference in the living conditions of the people, for the good of it, no matter the factor of cost.
One such project, boldly promoted, is the Free SHS (which remains a shining example). It is up to this Government to invest and invest heavily too, to get commendable results.
If there is a way by which a man catches delicious fish without the risk of going to sea, I am yet to be informed. Had the Progress Party not been axed from governance, prematurely, Busia’s bold and sagacious action of implementing the Accra Drainage System, designed to take flood waters, ruining our
farms, breaking down houses and carrying away our infants, into the sea, Accra today, would have been free from flooding.
Nkrumah’s Government had earlier abandoned the project, as a non-priority area, after independence.
Of the many drawbacks, one that keeps causing persistent mind pain is allowing all our rivers to flow into the sea and only wait for rainfall to irrigate our farms. How sad!
I urge the Government to therefore invest in:
- redirecting our rivers as well as excess water from Bagre and Weija dams to do the job of irrigating our farms.
- Proliferate the country with warehouses and silos to address post-harvest losses.
- Convert the so-called Agriculture Development Bank, (which functions not as the name suggests but rather as a regular commercial bank) into a Farm Assistance Instrument to aid the entire portfolio of
Agriculture and Agribusiness, benefiting more meaningfully with the production of raw materials for the 1D1F programme.
- Establish Mechanisation and Equipment Depots for the supply and maintenance of farm machinery and tools, across the country, on liberal terms.
- Create a dynamic and expansive marketing system in which traders find their special niche to satisfy local and overseas demands, as marketing is the link between production and consumption. The
historical role of the cocoa industry which has sustained our economy from its inception in 1879 and which puts the farmer and the government together in the marketing chain, should teach us a lesson.
- It should not be difficult, for the following State Organs to be put together to chew on the ideas posted here for something good to come out (a) CSIR (b) Ministry of Labour and Manpower (c) Ministry of Land and Mineral Resources (d) National Security Ministry (e) KNUST (f) Ministry of Agriculture and the (g) National House of Chiefs.
- Again, the government is urged to do all that is possible to project farming, not just for the poor, but as an honourable business for the educated, the elite, the wealthy and powerful business persons, in the
society. When these goals have been achieved and the Farmer has earned his due, significantly, Agriculture would have deserved an Event which the government is tagging as Farmers Day, and which will then be celebrated appreciatively, as a National Holiday.
The writer is a journalist and Public Relations Consultant
BY Frank Apeagyei