The clarion call by Dr. Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture that as many Ghanaian as possible must join in food production reminiscent of the days of General Kutu Acheampong’s Operation Feed Yourself has caught up.
Farmers are increasing the size of their farms which they were compelled in the past to deliberately shrink because they lacked inputs and motivation. The Akufo Addo government has slashed fertilizer prices by fifty percent.
Heeding the minister’s call, residents in cities and big towns are using every available space for the cultivation of maize, cassava, fruits and vegetables. But these efforts are being eroded by stray domestic animals and pests.
As a country, we sit down for things to come to a head before seeking solutions to our problems. For years, people have bitterly complained about animals destroying their farms and gardens. The refusal and insensitivity of the previous government to the plight of farmers, emboldened Fulani herdsmen to continually mete out atrocities including rape and even killings to them. At a point, it even became clear, that the authorities were protecting the herdsmen instead of the vulnerable farmers.
If we cannot protect farmers from Fulani herdsmen, what is the guarantee that if one tills the land as encouraged by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, stray cattle animals will allow the crops to reach maturity and harvesting?
In 2010, the Accra Metropolitan Health Department embarked on the arrests of stray animals in the metropolis. Its director Dr. Simpson Anim Boateng announced that 80 animals had been arrested and that a fee of Ghc 600 was being charged to owners of such animals. He went further to say that animals which were not claimed after some period of time would be auctioned. An interesting feature of the move was the possible prosecution that owners could face. This was replicated elsewhere in the country. Then everything fizzled out!!
Fast track to 2017. The destructive effects of stray animal has reached unmanageable proportions. Accra the capital city leads the statistics. What happened to AMA’s determination to rid the city of stray animals? Were members of the taskforce and their director compromised and so terminated their activities in midstream of the programme? Was anyone prosecuted and their cattle confiscated?
With immediate effect, the Minister of Local Government should order chief executives of all Municipal and District Assemblies to enforce their bye-laws on stray animals. People believe that bye-laws are on paper hence their appetite and stubbornness to break them.
The quick reaction of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to the threat posed by army worms in different parts of the country is in the right direction. The ministry must of necessity remove any impediments to the effective implementation of the Planting and Jobs programme.
I strongly suggest, that the MOFA should supply the assemblies pesticides for them to spray gardens in the cities and towns. This is because the army worms are destroying crops in them. We need the contribution of all in the government’s efforts at boosting crop production. In this regard, the assemblies should cooperate and collaborate with the residents associations under their jurisdiction.
Also, extension officers should visit the residential areas to advice and assist gardeners.
Operation Feed Yourself succeeded because the Acheampong regime had the support of majority of Ghanaians and so must the Planting and Jobs programme.