Modern Ghana logo

FEATURED: The Gods On African Thrones...

Mar 31, 2009 | Political

This Is Leadership, Man!


Yao Yevu has a soft spot for vulnerable people in society. That is why in spite of his running battles and gripe with politicians, he finds precious time researching into social problems.

Farmers in the North, particularly those on the Tono, Vea and Pwalugu irrigation sites, are my friends…Aligidongo, Batunga and the women in Navrongo Central.

Madam Afoley's troublesome and garrulous tomato traders, who throng Navrongo Central like bees around this time of the year, outsmarting each other in the move to rush early to Accra to meet good market - even whilst farmers, who sell off years of savings and investment in cows to raise money to farm the vegetable, find it difficult earning decent returns on their investments.

I know of several cases in which farmers, after investing heavily in tomatoes, fail to access markets for the vegetable.

In the end, desperate and forlorn, they commit suicide because banks and NGOs chase them for monies they cannot produce.

 Sad, very sad…And that is a recurring feature…with technocrats in Accra dead and buried behind their desks sniffing contracts that Ministers sign, so that they can make some millions in envelopes.

That is why I was excited when I heard Vice-President John Mahama direct that tomato farmers should take up 30% per cent shares in the Northern Star Tomato Factory.

I don't know what the agreements and shareholder status of Northern Star is; but I know however, that the essence of laws is to solve situations in the best interest of the majority, without compromising justice.

The politics about Northern Star has been too annoying.

The games by Ministry of Trade goons, who initially jumped onto the turf with support from politician cronies failed to take into consideration the lawful interests of farmers in the Upper East producing to serve a particular market

The sin of some politicians is that when they enter the corridors of power, all they think of is how to take advantage of their enhanced circumstances to thieve. God curse them today, tomorrow and the day after…

Leadership is about finding appropriate solutions to problems, which is what John Mahama has done, and for which he deserves Yevu's compliments in tons and 'mega' tons. John's intervention is a far cry however from what we see about our See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil President JEA Mills, who looks more to me like a sheep being led to the slaughter than the leader we need at this time in the history of the nation to move Ghana notches and notches faster than we have ever moved at any time in our history.

Again, thank you John; and God bless you…
I have a gripe with Ghana's leadership, when it comes to agriculture.

I have my problems with Kutu Acheampong; but when it comes to farming and housing, I believe Dr. Kwame Nkrumah apart, he did more in his turbulent seven-year reign than all our civilian and other military Heads of State together.

From Dawhenya, Tono, Vea, Pwalugu irrigation facilities to Dansoman and the other housing estates that sprang up in his name across the entire nation, I believe, on hindsight, we sacrificed Acheampong too early, without assessing him. But that is the price men in uniform pay, when they take up the gun to force themselves upon us…

I read yesterday's edition of The Daily Graphic; and found the oft-repeated statements made by politicians about how interested they are in farmers and agriculture…and they often make those statements, when they need our votes.

 'Agriculture Will Be Key,' the headline ran…and I said to myself, "I am sorry,' because the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade have, in my view, no serious records and data, for instance, on tomato production in this country. Let them come out if they think Yao Yevu is wrong.

How many trucks of tomatoes leave Upper East and Burkina Faso farm gates for Ghana each day? How many of such trucks arrive in Accra only; and what is the volume of the produce that is consumed in Accra and Kumasi?

What is the volume of trade between Burkina Faso and Ghana in terms of tomato production, import and distribution? It is only when we have an idea of the workings of the trade - from farmer level - to trader and distribution level that we can say, in my view, that agriculture is key.

Unfortunately, our technocrats know more about framework technicalities like EPAs than they know our agricultural terrain and the problems, opportunities and potential, particularly regarding the Savannah Project the current administration would be undertaking during its first four year tenure.

Too many people working around books and files, but too many also around doing nothing on the field to move agriculture forward…USAID, TechnoServe, CIDA and other agencies are doing all the work for us, without us even availing ourselves of the rewards in terms of data.

As I speak, tomato is still being packed in wooden crates, in spite of USAID support to make the packaging decent.

Government, meanwhile sits still, unable to put in place simple frameworks and mechanisms for moving trade and commerce forward, so that our claim that we will make the private sector the engine of growth is actualised at all levels of economic activity.

Philip Abayori's NFFAWAG should be tasked to coordinate and sustain this initiative about farmers holding shares in the Northern Star Tomato Factory, so that the initiative does not become a nine-day wonder.

John's experience in communications and social work is an asset that the current administration should latch on to push its social democracy agenda forward - in the name of God and Allah…Farmers in the North have been too vulnerable. 

Thank you, His Excellency…once again.

Powered By Modern Ghana