“For freshness -fresh air in the face of investors – the President should immediately remove his Agric Minister. Why – because the man is not interested in solving the national problems. He is interested in his own presidency. Go round the country and see; instead of planting foods he is planting signboards for his presidency and I mean what I am saying. He is a big part of the problems because he is the one running Planting for Foods and even if ‘agblima’ is part of our food inflation, then we have a huge problem”, Ghana’s former Ambassador to India, His Excellency, Sam Pee Yalley has noted.
Ambassador Yalley was speaking on Citi TV’s ‘Big Issues’ last Saturday morning over the recent food inflation and the skyrocketing cost of food around the country.
He said the situation cannot be entirely blamed on external geopolitical factors and that we should be honest among ourselves to admit the cost of food in the country has gone up and causing a heightened hardship in many homes.
The former Ambassador was of the view that the situation requires a sustained and focused attention from leadership but sadly, the Minister for Food and Agriculture Owusu Afriyie Akoto has some of his attention on what is believed to be his quest to contest the New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential primaries to become the party’s presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.
Ambassador Yalley lamented over the divided attention from the Minister and even the cost of fertilizer as well:
“Where in Ghana can you not plant maize and cassava for them to grow well? Where in Ghana? So when the ordinary people were planting their cassava and maize, we did not have food inflation this much. Now the Government has taken billions of money into Planting for Food and Jobs and where are we? The last time I checked, donkeys were importing fertilizers. If you sell fertilizers to farmers who do not have money, master.
“You go for syndicated loan to come and support farmers and then you sell the fertilizers to them. They are even pleading for you to bring the fertilizers, now you say they should go and use organic fertilizers”, he added.
The Ghana Statistical Service has announced that surging food prices pushed the rate of inflation in May 2022 to 27.6%, against the 23.6% recorded in April 2022.
According to the data released, the margins between food and non-food inflation was 4.4 percentage points relative to 5.4 percentage points for March 2022 and 5.3 percentage points for April 2022.
However the Agric Minister has remained very vocal in his position that there is abundance of food all across the country and the prices are very affordable.
Meanwhile the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana has warned that food prices may continue to go high if government does not intervene.
Bismark Owusu Nortey, Programmes Officer of the association, Bismark Owusu Nortey said the current situation being faced by farmers also reflects a failure of agricultural policies under the particularly the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Programme
“The bad news I have is that the situation might worsen. The factors we pointed out last year have multiplied now. If nothing is done about the situation, the prices of food may skyrocket by the close of the year.
“Prices of the fertilizers have gone up this year, twice the price last year. Prices of weedicides keep rising too. Our estimation for the production of an acre of maize last year was around GH¢1,700. As of March this year, we did the estimation for the same acre, and we were looking at somewhere around GH¢3,000. The difference is almost about 100%. Who will bear this cost? It definitely cannot be the farmer. It will be pushed down to the consumer, that is, if government does not intervene,” Bismark Owusu Nortey added during an interview with Citi TV.
There have been calls that Ministers serving in the Nana Akufo-Addo led-Government who intend to contest the flag-bearer race of the NPP should voluntarily resign or be forced to do so because it is clear their quest to become president would divide their focus and concentration in performing their duties as ministers.
Some of them even started their undercover campaigns in the first year on the NPP’s first term and sparked some petty rivalry among themselves.
That lack of focus, divided attention and blurred commitment would most likely culminate in a failure in of their individual mandates at the respective ministries and reputedly a failure in the collective mandate of the Government as a whole.
The call by Ambassador Yalley is not a strange one. It would not be the first time, in Ghana’s not too distant political history that appointees of an incumbent government are crabbing over each other on who succeeds the king and have been asked to step aside.
It happened during the tail end of President John Kufuor’s second term in government and the then President Kufuor did the right thing by asking the persons involved to step aside to concentrate on their ambitions so the herculean business of running a government would go on with only appointees who are fully committed and fully focused on their work.