Mr Ken Quartey, President of Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers, on Tuesday criticized political leaders for continuously paying lip service to development of the agricultural sector.
Speaking at a two-day stakeholders meeting on the country's agricultural policy, Mr Quartey said while political leaders would use every opportunity on platforms to extol the importance of agriculture to socio-economic development, they had in fact been doing little to move the sector forward.
“These repeated statements have had the tendency to lull many of us, particularly practitioners who have chosen agriculture as a livelihood and career, into a false sense of comfort that these words would be followed by prompt and sustained actions. The reality is quite the opposite,” he told workshop participants during the opening session.
“When agriculture continues to be one of the top two contributors to GDP and the largest employer of labour, it appears politically wise to promise heaven to agriculture in Ghana but too easy to do little when political power is attained,” he added.
The two-day meeting is to develop strategies and establish a goal oriented food sub-sector policy for the country's agricultural sector.
It would also try to build consensus on what exactly the country's agricultural policy is and how to deal with the challenges that face the sector.
Referring to the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II), a framework for the implementation of strategies for the modernisation of the agricultural sector, Mr Quartey, said the document clearly supported the fact that political leaders were failing to support the backbone of the country's economy.
For instance, credit to the agricultural sector has dropped from 12 per cent in 1998 to five per cent in 2006.
Mr Quartey said although the time was limited the farmers would try to take advantage of this election interlude, to test the aspiring political leadership and its commitment to agriculture.
“If such an opportunity should come, it is important that the sector should have a clear idea of the key and fundamental priority issues, challenges and opportunities that our political leaders must address,” he said.
“When the sector participants have a clear focus on the fundamental challenges, it can then put the promises of our political leaders through scrutiny and determine if these visions have been clearly thought through and the policy and strategies needed for implementation are in sync with the development of agriculture, the economy and our national development,” he added.
“It is my hope that a focused discussion would be generated to enable the sector to truly tests the sincerity of the promises that our political leaders make to our sector.”
The meeting would discuss Food Production and Poverty Alleviation, the impact of Trade Policy on Food Production, Food Security, Market Access and Distribution and Investment in Food Production.