(A National Drive to Support the Unemployed and Achieve Food Sufficiency)
In proposing unusual ideas to enrich the affairs of nations, it is important to look for precedence. In this regard it is to history that we looked for inspiration. We looked at the times and the work of the thirty-second President of the United States, and the only man ever elected to four terms in that office. When Roosevelt took office on March 4, 1933, the conditions in America were very much like the conditions we face as a nation today. Thirteen million (13,000,000) Americans were unemployed, the banking structure was collapsing, clouds of gloom and despair hung over the entire nation. In his inaugural address this is what he had to say to the American people “ The only thing to fear is fear itself…………This nation asked for action and action now. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work…….. The people of the United States have not failed. They asked for …direct, vigorous leadership…. For discipline and direction under leadership. Within 100 days of assuming office he enacted the basic legislation of the New Deal. Among these were: 1. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) 2. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) 3. The Emergency Relief Administration 4. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 5. The Tennessee Valley Authority. Students of history and economics can look these up. The lessons here are that, these were unusual times and required unusual responses to meet dire national needs. In the true traditions of the Roosevelt era, we have outlined below systematic approach through which the NPP government can help create jobs in the agricultural sector and help prevent rural to urban drift. As we outline this project, nearly all of Africa receives some form of food aid and there is a looming crisis of famine and hunger in Southern Africa. No African Country has offered any food assistance. It is against this backdrop that we propose that our able bodied citizens can be offered the opportunity of owning and running their own grain farms, with direct government support and assistance, as outlined below. The output from this added group should propel the country into a net grain exporter status. For the programme to achieve its intended objectives it should be a national drive, competitive and should pit one region against the other, one district against the other, one NPP MP and his constituents against an NDC MP and his constituents in a fun and yet directed manner. The Key Players 1. The Government of Ghana 2. The Chiefs and Queen mothers of our traditional areas
3. Local Government 4. Local Residents Role of Chiefs and Queen Mothers 1. The Chiefs release land capable of supporting modern grain production on long term lease 2. An agreement be established with users of the land to pay a fee from the sales of their farm products into a fund administered by local residents and used for the funding of social, health and educational facilities such as libraries, scholarships for needy students, sports centre, hospital etc. 3. The Chiefs provide mentoring support, including visits to lift morale. It is important that the land is large enough to support at least a minimum of 10 locals who would benefit from this project and should be on one site. This is significant to enable economies of scale, in terms of onsite support and training. Role of Local Government 1. District Chief Executives should encourage traditional leaders to provide land. 2. Poverty Reduction Funds should be used to provide grants for: a) land clearing and preparation for farming b) grain seedlings c) marketing training d) assistance in finding export markets in the event of local glut e) building cooperative storage facilities f) employ Agricultural Officers to offer technical support in scientific agricultural practices Rural employment should be an important policy consideration for the government. The farm sector has direct interface with other production sectors in the food chain and has important links to the general economy. Besides the income and direct employment in the farming sector, there is the multiplier effect of indirect job creation in wholesale and retail distribution of the farm products, corn mills, food canning etc. Other impacts include backward linkages (supply of inputs to the farming sector) and induced linkages (spending of income). The overall impact will influence communities in many ways and improve standard of living. Solving the poverty problem in rural Ghana requires rapid growth in output, income, and employment. Although there is the requirement for large growth in Ghana's exports, domestic demand is important in the initial stages of accelerated economic growth and hence the need to raise productivity in the agriculture sector. This can only be achieved through the co-operation of the custodian of our lands (Nananom), Government and the locals. Agriculture is important because it employs so much of the labor force in the early stages of development. Rising farm incomes are spent largely on labor-intensive products of the rural sector, boosting demand where it does the most good in generating further increases in employment. If well implemented, the growing agriculture sector will generate a sufficient increase in employment to increase real wage rates in rural areas.
Eric Owusu Sekyere and Henry Antwi Sydney, Australia