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23.09.2005 General News

MPs welcome "free land for farming"

By jFm
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Some members of Parliament have welcomed the initiative by the ministry of Private Sector development to provide land and financial a support to MPs and Ministers of State to go into oil Palm and cassava cultivation.

The MP's say the scheme will not only benefit government officials but also every Ghanaian who shows interest.

While the MPs do not reject the minister's offer, some politicians have offered varying thoughts on the issue.

Some members of the public argue that the programme is yet another attempt to enrich government officials at the expense of Ghanaian farmers who have no access to credit.

The Member of Parliament for Asokwa, Maxwell Kofi Jumah says perception that the package is meant for only ministers; deputy ministers and members of Parliament must be discarded because the package is aimed at enticing Ghanaians to venture into agriculture.

He said the concept is not new in Africa because it has been used in Cote D'Ivoire and proven successful and beneficial to the people.

Mr Jumah said the concept would make people see farming in a broader perspective instead of parading in search for white colour jobs.

According to him if the facility had been introduced earlier most former MPs and ministers will not have found themselves in financial difficulties because it would have served as a money making venture when they go on retirement.

Another Member of Parliament for Asawase, Mohammed Mubarak lauded the initiative and said it will go a long way to supplement the income of MPs on retirement.

He however disagreed to suggestions that the facility be directed to traditional farmers, explaining that it will be difficult to recover loans from farmers.

“ Its very difficult dealing with the farmers because anytime they such access money, they this its some kind of Father Christmas and paying it back, they will tend to have one reason or another,” he said.

Mr Mubarak was concerned that limiting the scheme to only oil palm and cassava will not benefit people of in the Northern region since such crops do not grow well.

The NDC's national organizer and former MP for Fanteakwa, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo told Joy News that although the policy is commendable, attention should be given to persons who have interest in farming or are already engaged in it.

“Basically the principle is good but we don't need MPs. Minister and their deputies to make farming a respectable vocation. I am saying that let is identify people who are already in the field,” he said.

The Fanteakwa MP told Joy News that government ought to be careful in the selection process to ensure that the MPs, minister and deputy ministers are interested and have farming at heart.

“ My only problem is that MPs, ministers and deputy minister are very buy now and for that matter they will end up being absentee farmers so if we not careful and this large sums of monies and quantum of resources are channeled into it and the returns are not favourable, it will create problems,” he said.

Mr Ofosu Ampofo suggested that former MPs and minister who are not doing anything now and are interested be encouraged since they have more time on their hands.

“Every year we get 138 district best farmers, 10 regional best farmers, 3 national best farmers and 2 runner ups. We can go back to trace these winners to see how they are faring.

We can use them to set up nuclear farms and engage several people in their areas. I believe that because they are experienced, if we support them it will boost agriculture rather than turn the wheel to have somebody who is not interest in farming,” he said.

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