The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Ernest Debrah, has taken a swipe at the Peasant Farmers' Association of Ghana (PFAG) for accusing him of deceiving the public when he announced a ¢20-billion support for cotton farmers.
He insisted that what the Association, whose existence he had been unaware of until their criticisms, should have done was to crosscheck from the Ministry, instead of holding a press conference to attack him.
Reacting to a press conference, which was jointly organized by PFAG and Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition on Thursday, he said "the revival of the cotton industry has been upgraded into a Presidential Special Initiative and is therefore receiving priority attention from the government."
He continued that the support already being provided by the government was being channeled through organized, recognized and reputable major companies to the farmers.
The Minister named these to include Ghana Cotton Company Ltd. (GCCL), Nulux Plantation Ltd. (NPL), Plantation Development Ltd. (NPL), and Plantation Development Ltd. (PDL).
Further, he said these companies, with the support of the Ministry, would cultivate a total of 10,000 hectares this year in a programme that would benefit 10,000 cotton farmers.
Mr. Debrah emphasized that so far an amount of ¢4.6billion had already been released to GCCL for the procurement of 300 metric tonnes of certified cotton seeds and the ploughing of 10,000 hectares of land on behalf of the farmers.
He said GCCL had already imported the improved cottonseed from Burkina Faso for distribution to the farmers.
"Ploughing of all the 10,000 hectares has been completed, the seeds have been sown and the application of fertilizer has commenced," he added.
He said additionally, a further sum of ¢16 billion has been earmarked to support farmers in the three cotton companies.
Mr. Debrah noted that in compliance with current procurement practice, advertisements had been placed in newspapers for the procurement of agro-chemicals. He also said the procurement processes had been scheduled for completion by July 20, for these inputs to be provided to the farmers through the companies, stressing, "This brings the total support provided by government to the cotton industry this year to ¢20.6billion".
He intimated that meanwhile the GCCL had already, on behalf of the Ministry, supplied 40,000 bags of NPK fertilizer to the farmers.
He assured cotton farmers and the general public that the government was committed to the rehabilitation of the cotton industry, as the vehicle for the revival of the textile industry in Ghana.