In a science class test, the following questions were asked:
1. What is matter?
Kofi answered as follows: matter is a song by Shasha Marley
2. Mention the 3 states of matter.
Kofi's answer: matter pui, matter tui and matter fush.
As much as Kofi erred in answering his science test questions, he is not alone; President Akufo-Addo has also goofed. It’s not hard to find a drunk; they don’t take logical steps. Nana Akufo-Addo has taking some illogical steps by making an uninformed statement about the number of people his Planting for food and Jobs programme has employed, and I had wished not to add to it, but I am at pains to say that he is like someone who has been inebriated, and will soon be found out as this article unfolds.
The noise about creating jobs with the PFJ programme is a fallacy, and I will explain. What the programme is doing is just extending agricultural services to already existing farmers who were hitherto employed, so where comes the creation of new jobs?
The assertion by the president that the figures put out regarding the number of people employed under the PFJ programme is yet to be challenged is a lie. According to a story published by Modern Ghana on 5th February, 2018, Mr. Edward Karewa, the General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers' Union (GAWU), contended that the figures provided by Dr. Afriyie Akoto, minister of Food and Agriculture have been exaggerated and needs to be scrutinized.
On 23rd January, 2018, Dr. Afriyie Akoto in a statement to justify the employment figure admitted that only 3,000 jobs were created under the formal sector (extension services and farmer registration) the rest were peripheral jobs such as input distribution and application, post-harvest handling of produce, primary processing and transportation, handling and warehousing as well as marketing.
There are more skeletons in the cupboard: Sammy Gyamfi, the National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has given eight cogent reasons why government's Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme is not yielding desired outcomes, and, therefore, is not a success as the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and government claim, which I would like to reproduce for the benefit of my cherish readers.
On his Facebook timeline, Lawyer Sammy Gyamfi was worried that if all is well with Ghana’s Agric Sector as the NPP would want us believe then,
1. Why the decline in growth rate for the Agric sector from 6.1% in the year 2017 to 4.8% in 2018, and further down to 2.6% for the first half of 2019 (compared to 4.7% growth recorded for the first half of 2018)?
2. Why the astronomical increase in food imports? For example, annual importation of maize has increased from 31,000mt in 2016 to 50,000mt for 2019 according to the U.S Department of Agriculture. Also, annual rice importation has increased from $300million in 2016 to $400million in 2018.
3. Why did the Akufo-Addo government as recently as 2nd January 2019, borrow 2,750 tonnes of cereals (maize, rice, millet and sorghum) from ECOWAS to support the School Feeding Programme? Why is Ghana, for the first time in history, borrowing food from ECOWAS in the midst of so-called plenty? And why has the Akufo-Addo government failed to replace the borrowed cereals till date?
4. Why the steep increases in the prices of food products on the market?
5. Why are poultry farmers complaining about the high cost of poultry feed (maize and soyabeans) as was recently reported by Myjoyonline.com
The NDC communicator was not alone in his criticism of the so called success story of one of the flagship programmes of the Akufo-Addo government. Policy Think Tank, IMANI Africa, has questioned the viability of the programme, saying that the policy failed to address key concerns such as the lack of access to finance, unavailability of water and lack of mechanization drive.
According to the Civil Society Organization, "The programme in its current structure fails to tackle the most critical challenge inhibiting productivity in the agric value chain: mechanization of the farming process. Incorporating significant agritech in the campaign to improve the entire value chain: from seed tracking, land preparation, irrigation, harvesting, storage and packaging can improve production and attract the youth into the sector as well."
These are the real facts on the ground as far as the Planting for food and jobs Programme is concerned, and so President Akufo-Addo should not delude himself in thinking that he has created over 2 million jobs; perhaps, he has been misled again.
The result of the litmus test to this will be seen on 7th December when the hungry and angry unemployed youth of this country decides. And in my minds ears, I can hear some of our friends on the other side of the political divide singing Shasha Marley's maata tui-tui, maata pui-pui, maata fush on Election Day.
Anthony Obeng Afrane