General Secretary for Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Edward Kawereh, has called for a total restructuring of government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative in a bid to resolve challenges faced by the sector this year.
According to him, the PFJ initiative by far has failed to attain its purpose in promoting food security and making selected food crops available in the Ghanaian markets.
His reaction is to comments made by the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on the extent to which the country is currently experiencing a wave of food shortage.
Mr Kawereh believes that a lot more can be done in addressing the challenges in the agric sector.
“We expect the Minister to ensure that there is a total restructuring of the Planting for Food and Jobs going into the future so that the challenges that we are facing this year will not occur again. In our opinion as a union, the strategies being used so far for the Planting for Food and Jobs, if successful at all, have reached their limit.
“To go into the next stage of our agricultural production, we need a restructuring of the PJF and that should not be done only by the Ministry but also through genuine national stakeholders discussions”.Mr Edward Kareweh
Addressing food concerns
GAWU has over the course of time revealed that, cautions about a possible food shortage in Ghana should be taken seriously. Prior to this, government had subsidized fertilizer under its Planting for Food and Jobs initiative to increase food production and address the high imports of foodstuff into the country.
That notwithstanding, there has been recorded cases of fertilizer smuggling, which endlessly impedes the successful implementation of the government’s flagship program.
According to Mr Kareweh, one of the main setbacks has been government’s challenges to pay fertilizer suppliers. The GAWU general Secretary believes that this has led to shortage of fertilizers for farmers this year.
“It is not just about the lack of fertilizer. It is also about the fact that people who had actually increased their acreage hoping to get the subsidized fertilizer did not get it”.Mr Edward Kareweh
Earlier, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, had petitioned Parliament to immediately review government’s fertilizer subsidy programme. This, he explained, is currently not serving its planned purpose.
Mr Ayariga noted that the programme has been riddled with many inadequacies and had become expensive with low returns. He revealed that as a result of the makeup of the program and government’s delay in paying them, suppliers tend to inflate the price of the fertilizers.
Nonetheless, the Food and Agriculture Minister’s office accused Mr. Mahama of instilling fear in people. It noted that the Planting for Food and Jobs has instead strengthened Ghana’s food security.
The Bawku Central legislator insisted that it also affected other inputs which resulted in accrued interests on loans they use to undertake the contract. Following this, there has also been concerns raised by former President John Mahama over food shortages.
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