We will return Agric to growth – Dr Afriyie Akoto

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By Emmanuel Bruce

The Minister-designate for Food and Agricultural, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has assured Ghanaians that he would turn around the fortunes of agricultural sector when given the nod by Parliament later in the year. He told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra that agricultural growth, which had been on the decline over the past five years, would now be returned to the path of growth under his tenure.

Dr Afiyie Akoto, who was minority spokesperson on agricultural, Food and Cocoa Affairs under the previous administration, spoke to the paper on the sidelines of President John Dramani Mahama’s last State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on January 4. “Agriculture under the old administration failed miserably to the extent that majority of farmers are now poorer than they were, eight years ago. The statistics are there to show,” he said. “We will, therefore, work hard to return the sector to growth, “he stated.

Contribution to GDP

the agricultural sector’s contribution total output, measured by Gross Domestic product (GDP), has been on a decline since 2010.

Data from Ghana Statistical Service indicates that although the sector recorded an improvement of 5.2 per cent in 2013 compared to 2.3 percent in 2012, its share of GDP reduced from 29.8 percent in 2010 to 25.3 percent in 2011.

It fell further to 22.9 percent in 2012 before dropping to 21.6 percent in 2013. In 2014, agriculture accounted for 19.9 percent of year’s total economy output.

This is not good for the fortunes of the sector’s stakeholders, Dr Afriyie – Akoto said. To reserve this trend, he explained that the new administration would invest more public resources into agriculture.

He mentioned soft credit to farmers and improvement of agricultural mechanization centers as some of measures the administration will use to reserve the fortunes of sectors. The former Member of Parliament (MP) of Kwadaso in the Ashanti Region also mentioned that his outfit would ensure that exists a credible marketing system that would guarantee a ready market for the farmers.

“if we are able to do these things, then we can turn the fortune of agriculture to the benefit of this country, farmers and consumers,” he noted.

“Within the four years of our government, we will see the growth rate of agriculture going up instead of downwards trend we are seeing,” he added.

He, however, pointed out that it was not going to be an easy ride due to the changes in weather patterns and other factors.

“We will, however, make sure that there is enough resources to support hardworking farmers,” he said.

“We have the farmers who are prepared to work from morning to evening but the public support is what is lacking and if we increase public support to them, they will perform better,” he added. GB