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20.10.2008 General News

Farmers praise government

By The Statesman

The  Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition, a farmer based advocacy group has commended the government of the New Patriotic Party for initiating policies and programmes that have  helped stabilise farming activities and food production in the country.

It has also commended government for continuing with the celebration of the annual National Farmers' Day celebration which was instituted about two decades ago to reward deserving farmers in the country.

However, Ibrahim Akalbila, coordinator of GTLC was unhappy about the way poverty continues to engulf farmers in the country, a situation which has negatively covered the good things of this government.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Friday to announce farmers" preparation towards the farmers' week celebration, Ibrahim Akalbila suggested that the National Farmers Day should be tied to the attainment of productivity and infrastructure development benchmarks devoid of partisan politics and also make government accountable and responsible to the millions of food crop farmers in the country.

He said such a move should curtail the lip service paid to farmers and usher in the next stage in the celebration.

Such a move, he also said, could make majority of farmers proud and encourage them to increase farm yields, increase incomes, and enhance value addition among others.

He also called on government to come out with policies to protect local farmers against unfair global trade and help secure their markets for them.

According to him, a study  has shown that since 1998, there have been significant increases in the volume of imports of tomato paste, while local production of fresh tomato had either stagnated or declined.

He said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in its Foods and Agricultural Development Policy 2002 report emphasized the need to ensure food security and promote import substitution aimed at reducing imports by 30% by 2004 and increase production level to about 370,000 metric tonnes.

"Today however, the rice sector is even more distant from achieving this goal than in 2002. According to MOFA statistics, production level declined from 281,100 metric tonnes in 2005.

Domestic rice which accounted for 43% of the domestic market in 2000 fell to 29% by 2003.

On the contrary, rice imports increased almost 70% from about 250,000 tonnes in 1998 to 415, 150 tonnes in 2003.