11.08.2002 Feature Article

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: Strategies That Could Lead To...

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: Strategies That Could Lead To...
11.08.2002 LISTEN

...Economic Development with Less Foreign Aid. The development of Agric-base industries is very significant in this respect. Government taking bold measures to increase productivity in every crop planted in Ghana can achieve this. We always talk of increasing productivity in the agricultural sector, but let us face realities and think about something that will work. Facing the real challenges, our main problems will be (1) Irrigation (2) Machinery/Farming equipment (3) the right seedling to plant. These three areas are where the government should negotiate loans and aid to invest in. We need very good and extensive irrigation schemes (please do not tell me there is no money) if we really want to expand our farms to increase productivity. This is not “talking the talk”. It can be done. This should not be beyond our means. The point is, we have the labor force and if we can manage to afford this good and extensive irrigation schemes, more of our people can get work to do. It is not easy to get things going as simple as I am saying but this is the direction we should be moving if we (Ghanaians) want to be self sufficient and less dependant on foreign aid. Concerning machinery/farming equipment, this is how I see it: In order to increase productivity, we need good and workable machinery and we need them in abundance. I am not saying every farmer or any person wanting to farm, should have his/her own farming equipment, what I am saying is that every district or to begin with every region should have a big warehouse/workshop with stocks of machinery (privately owned) where farmers could go to rent equipment to do their farming jobs. The government in consultation with the private sector should be able to make the capital available for such projects. This is how I see it: If the government by any means can guarantee loans for member of parliaments (MPs) to buy their own cars to the tune of $20,000 each, then there shouldn’t be a problem at all for the same government to arrangement with international manufacturers of farming machinery for individuals who have the entrepreneur spirit to invest in farming. So what I am saying is that, we can make money available for these machines to increase productivity in the Agric-base industry. If we were able to start such a project, we would have created a whole lot of jobs. We have to start thinking outside the box. Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) is good, but if it does not come to you, are you going to sit down and wait till it come? Big NO. We got to do something. The third factor is the development of seedlings. My God, we got to do something better than we are doing now. With little bit of initiative from the government and the private sector involved, our research institutions should be able to produce enough seedlings of every crop for our farmers to grow. The idea of expanding the Agric-base industries should significantly be embraced by the private sector. Indeed it is only the private sector that can manage it effectively. The government can set the goals and give some direction, as it is usually the case. The government should enact laws that will encourage the citizens of Ghana to get loans like the Government Guarantee loan resolution that was passed by parliament some time ago. The idea behind this article is not merely for farmers to produce enough primary crops for consumption, but to find a reliable means to semi-process the excess products. What I mean by this is, after being able to produce enough to feed ourselves, we should be able to process what is left for export to other countries. This is where the president’s initiative on starch comes in. In fact starch is very important for the food and drug manufacturing industries. So that an extensive production of industrial starch in Ghana for export will bring the country a lot of good particularly in the area of job creation. It is not only starch; there are other areas that can be ventured into. All these actually need hard work and vision on the part of our leaders. Please let us develop a “can do” attitude. Here is a quote from a leading People’s National Convention (PNC) member, Prof. Yakubu Saaka “We need to adopt effective policies and programs that will shift us away from neo-colonialism”. The professor went on to say that “experience has shown that prescriptions attached to the IMF and the World Bank loans and assistance have neither yielded the desired results nor improved the lot of the people, but have rather brought untold hardships and worsened the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian”. Now this is the key: THE PROBLEMS OF GHANA CAN ONLY BE SOLVED BY GHANAIANS THEMSELVES. It looks hard but it is not.