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30.11.2010 General News

Accelerating Pace Of infrastructural Development

By Daily Graphic
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There is so much meaning and substance in the saying that those who depend on others for their sustenance cannot assert their freedom and independence.

At least, if for nothing, freedom and independence for many people begin with the stomach and whoever controls what goes in there, when and at what frequency wields a lot of influence, if not total control, over the one at the receiving end.

This development transcends to the international level where nations which are unable to feed themselves and are dependent on food aid handouts from others are prone to manipulation and being dictated to by their more independent and self-reliant counterparts.

In our own history, there have been times when we have taken advantage of our advantageous geographic location in the tropics to produce enough food to feed ourselves, with surplus for export.

The period from 1972 to 1975 when the military government of the National Redemption Council (NRC), led by General Kutu Acheampong, launched the Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) programme really comes to mind here.

It is unfortunate that over the years, through a combination of factors, including the lack of political will, inappropriate agricultural policies and adverse climatic conditions, we lost this initiative and drive and have had to import food to feed ourselves.

We are happy that today, courtesy selfless and visionary leadership, committed and appropriate support for the agricultural sector and the hard work and perseverance of our farmers, the good old days when we beat our chest in pride that we could feed ourselves and even take care of our brothers and sisters in the sub-region and beyond are here with us again.

Reports from across the country speak of a bumper harvest in food and export crops and this looks set to outstrip the impressive over six per cent growth the agricultural sector chalked up last year.

In the Northern Region, which has been recognised as the nation's granary, food crops ranging from maize through rice to yam are reported to have been harvested and are still being harvested in record quantities.

Sadly, however, in a number of areas in the eastern corridor of the region, large quantities of foodstuffs, particularly yam, have been locked up, unable to reach the urban centres of consumption owing to the bad state of the roads there.

First, the inability of farmers to get their produce purchased and taken to the consumption centres means, among others, that they have been denied the legitimate and just rewards they richly deserve.

Again, the loss of such income not only erodes the capital base of farmers and limits their capacity to grow and expand but also serves as a disincentive to increased production. After all, what is the point in expanding production if produce cannot be marketed?

These setbacks notwithstanding, we are comforted by some interventions put in place by the government to address these serious challenges.

The government, in September this year, after President John Evans Atta Mills's return from Japan, had announced that assistance been secured for the construction of the eastern corridor road network stretching from Hohoe in the Volta Region through Bimbila and Yendi in the Northern Region to Kulungugu in the Upper East Region.

We wish to urge that in the face of this emergency, the government, in consultation with its Japanese counterpart, take urgent steps to fast-track the commencement of the project to help bring relief to the people of the area.

Again, we are aware that the establishment by the government of the Bulk Purchase and Storage Company to absorb farm produce at guaranteed prices will go a long way to ensure that all farm produce are bought for farmers to earn just rewards for their toil and sweat.

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