What every court going lawyer does every morning definitely before 07:00 hours is to glance through all the leading newspapers of Ghana. We try all the time to be abreast with what is happening, in town.
And so in the normal course of events I bought “The Chronicle” of Monday 16th August 2021 and saw at page 14 thereof a full-page rejoinder to my article, published earlier, “I Disagree with Kufuor.”
As a writer of feature articles, I can assure you that what we are afraid of is REJOINDERS. So when I saw the rejoinder, I missed a heartbeat, then I looked at the bye line – DANIEL DUGAN. I became all the more scared …… Dan has through the pages of The Chronicle carved a niche for himself in feature articles writing. Even though he kept on referring to me as “Senior” ad infintium, shall I confess when it comes to the field of writing, I am not fit even to lace his boots.
His first salvo at me, I plead guilty, is that I did not give a specific reference to what I was writing in reference to, the pages, dates and so on. My lame defence is that the principal writer is so famous in Ghana that there is no point repeating the obvious.
Sadly, as I read and read, I began to lose interest. What is Daniel Dugan saying? Did he seriously read my article? Or he has appointed himself as an Attorney to defend J.A. Kufuor?
What is all this controversy about, reader? J.A. Kufuor is a thoroughly well known name in Ghana. He was Busia's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, he was MP for Atwiwa Nwabiagya (Nkawie), he was a sports administrator, he is a lawyer, businessman and a politician, former President for two terms.
As a thinker interested in the advancement of knowledge, J.A. Kufuor put pen to paper and wrote a feature article, published in the media, trying to say that the main principal connection to ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is to IMPROVE UPON SMALL SCALE AGRICULTURE in Africa.
Mark you, the Ex President was not pontificating about theories and experiences gathered in POLITICS, about the nuances of cabinet reshuffle, addressing rallies and going on Presidential state visits no. He was not as a lawyer talking about bail in criminal cases or how to defend suspects in murder cases, no! He was foraging into improved agricultural production on the continent of Africa through massive support for small scale farming.
Daniel Dugan, this is where I disagree with the former President.
What I don't understand is that why should nation states in sub–Saharan Africa including Ghana be importing food? How? Look around us the weather, the rich subsoil, the forests, the rainy seasons and we CANNOT feed ourselves? We have to IMPORT food from temperate climates, in lands where snow covers the land almost half year-round. What is the problem?
To a large extent, in today's Ghana apart from Kumasi, Accra and the regional capitals, the majority of the people are involved in basic agriculture to produce food. Go to the towns and Villages on day time majority gone to farm, with HOES and CUTLASSES, just as our parents were doing HUNDRED years ago.
The aim of improved agriculture is to release labour for industries and for economic development. You don't improve agriculture by strengthening small scale farmers carrying basket loads of cassava, through subsistence seasonal planting but through MECHANISED agriculture, large scale production, in tonnes to feed the local population and to export excess to other markets.
One morning at Sandhurst, UK, while having breakfast, the officer in charge of the kitchen came to tell us that there is strike in Scotland but we should not worry because they have stored milk for TWO YEARS WOW!!!!
Here in Ghana, how much stock of food resources do we have? We produce from hand to mouth, using hoes and cutlasses and you talk about economic development?
Daniel Dugan referred us to his study of poultry in England, where the industry is so developed that the poultry farmer produces the chicken and gets the cheque the next day. Transportation, marketing and so on is another issue.
When can we develop to that level? Through more cutlasses and hoes? In 1974, Kutu Acheampong's NRC regime in a bid to promote agriculture opened AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT BANK (adb) in Ghana. But, fifty years on, has the mandate of the bank been achieved? How many farmers have turned around their farms through ADB patronage? Go to the bank's offices to see white collard gentlemen in black suits or accountants, economists, professionals, drawing fat salaries, in the name of promoting agricultural development, and yet, Ghana imports food.!!!
Go to Yendi, and see yams being buried in the ground for storage, go to Bono Region and see plantain going waste and you tell me the road to economic development is producing more cutlasses and hoes?
While a third year law student in Legon, in 1976, I studied international Trade and Investment Law and Professor Kwesi Botchwey told us of obfuscating cliches used to hoodwink those of us in the “developing” countries like SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS and others, browbeating us with statistics and figures!!!
Several times I have asked myself that why are we so blessed and yet so poor? Poverty in the midst of plenty. We are like children of a rich man in the castle complaining to their father that they are poor… WHAT IS OUR PROBLEM?
Let the Ministry of Education come out with an iron policy that all boarding schools must feed the students with YAMS, COCOYAMS and PLANTAIN and overnight there will be mad rush to improve local food in huge quantities – local technology friendly tractors and machines will be produced, storage facilities will be developed, and the high way to agricultural industries will be on the more.
Daniel Dugan, my beef with J.A. Kufuor, whether he wrote the article or if was written for him is that we must look to MECHANISED AGRICULTURE rather than small scale cutlass and hoes system of production in Ghana and for that matter Africa.
I am writing this article in the very comfortable environment of a Courtroom in Adenta High Court where I am waiting for my case to be called having charged GH¢2,000 for today's appearance. How many tubers of yams or even bags of cocoa can cover that?
And you tell me “Small scale farmer” is the linchpin to development?
I beg your pardon.
By NKRABEAH EFFAH DARTEY