The minority in parliament has criticized the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) phase two programme by government, insisting that there is nothing special about it.
According to the minority, the President’s launch of PFJ after the finance minister informed parliament through his mid-year budget to parliament in July 2023 that the PFJ program ended since December 2022, is a clear admission of the minority’s position that the PFJ program had failed, and that it was a mere “state resource looting platform disguised” as a flagship program.
It indicated that after reading through the PFJ Phase 2 program document, there is nothing substantially new in it and will not deliver any significant contribution to food security for the country. It explained that the second phase is only aimed at erasing the mess of PFJ 1 and creating an “image saving platform to continue the dissipation of this country’s resources through establishments by their friends and family”.
Among other things, the minority revealed that in the PFJ 2.0 document, government admitted to some limitations such as the PFJ having a high budgetary strain on government, non-adoption of the value chain approach, limited access to agricultural credit, low prioritization of national strategic stock, and limited focus on the needs of commercial small, medium and large-scale farmers.
Additionally, the minority stated that it has maintained an argument that a closer assessment of the administration of the agriculture sector in the last 6 years show a lack of in-depth policy formulation and implementation.
“So clearly, there is nothing special about PFJ Phase 2.0. It’s just a way of telling us government can no longer support input subsidy and that farmers will be left in the hands of private commercial entities to negotiate and transact their own production input regimes based on market determinants.”Minority
Contained in a statement date August 30, 2023, signed by Deputy Ranking Member, Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Dr Godfred Seidu Jasaw, it maintained that the minority has argued that Ghana’s priority crop production efforts are not linked to local industry or even a dedicated export market.
It explained that the situation reflects a deliberate misrepresentation of the Agricultural policy architecture, poor and/or misdirected investments in the sector and an over-hyping of the so-called successes of the government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs program.
“The recent expenditure on PFJ alone is mind boggling: 2021- GHC439million; 2022- GHC614million; 2023- GHC660 million. After six years of implementation of the PFJ programme, we still cannot account for the so-called increased production figures that is being reported by the minister for Agriculture. Where is the maize? Where is the rice? Where are the Soyabeans? All other things being equal, we expect to have a glut in the system and that should drive down prices. On the contrary, food produce is scarce, and prices are skyrocketing.”Minority
The PFJ 2.0 programme, the minority underscored, will shift from direct input subsidy to a smart agricultural Input Credit System, linked to structured market arrangements. With this, it revealed that such intervention would eliminate access to credit barriers, increase productivity and production, stabilize food prices, promote commercial agriculture and ultimately improve food security and resilience.
“We are further told the program would adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to increase the availability and access to improved inputs, mechanization and extension services as well as output markets. That its principles are (a) Value chains; (b) Private sector focused; (c) Market driven, and (d) Inclusivity for eleven commodities: grains (maize, rice, soybean, sorghum); vegetables (tomato, pepper, onion); roots and tubers (cassava, yam, plantain); and poultry.”Minority
Minority condemns PFJ 2
In light of its reservations on the PFJ 2, the minority demanded to know what government is going to spend the GHC660 million approved and why government has failed to support food crop farmers in Ghana since January 2023.
Elaborating on the disadvantages of the phase two of the PFJ, the minority maintained that it is substantially not different from the PFJ government has implemented since 2017. It revealed that the new program will rather impoverish the small holder farmer in a worse form as his faith will be determined by market forces.
“Government has no priority crops its prepared to commit finances on to reduce our import bill and achieve food sufficiency in the short to medium term. The whole production season for 2023 has been wasted and farmers have planted crops at full market price for their inputs. Expect higher food prices by close of year 2023 as farmers recover their full input cost. The language of the launched PFJ 2 document is flowery and highly theoretical.”Minority
Moreover, the minority insisted that the PFJ has failed to deliver food and nutritional security for Ghanaians and the new agric minister must be seen to be doing something new. Under IMF program, it noted that the economy cannot support an input subsidy program.
“As we speak, MoFA is now inviting stakeholders to a workshop to mine ideas on how to go about implementation of PFJ phase 2. I call on Ghanaians to vote out this incompetent and dishonest government to save the already collapsed Mother Ghana.”Minority