Agriculture is our way out of economic crisis – Dr Akoto
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, a Flagbearer hopeful of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), says the answer to Ghana’s economic challenge lies in the prioritisation of agriculture as the mainstay of the economy.
The sector, he said, has a multiplier effect of reducing poverty by creating jobs, guaranteeing food security, and generating the necessary resources for the development of the other sectors such as industry, health, education, and infrastructure.
“In the short to medium term, only the agricultural sector can establish that capacity to achieve sustained rapid economic growth.” Dr Akoto said at a lecture on the topic, “The Future of the Economy of Ghana – Transforming Agriculture for the Prosperity of All.”
He said attempts by the country to make the agriculture sector the driver of economic development, as had been the case with advanced economies, had largely been unsuccessful due to inadequate commitment.
“However, as the immediate past Minister for Food and Agriculture, I am confident that the Akufo Addo government has laid a solid foundation upon which a thriving sustainable agriculture can be built in the coming years, for the prosperity of all,” he said.
He said, among other things, the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), investment in farm inputs including GH¢2.6 billion as subsidy on improved seeds and fertilizers for the period of 2017 to 2021 have paved way for successive governments to make agriculture the driver of the country’s economic development.
“The value of production from the application of the subsidised inputs of seeds and fertilizers is estimated at GH¢47.5 billion. This is a huge economic rate of return on public expenditure on the farm subsidy programme,” he said.
When given the nod to become President of Ghana, he said he would prioritise agriculture through the implementation of a well-defined vision and strategy that is hinged on innovation, value addition and entrepreneurship.
He intends to among other things set up an Agricultural Management Team (AMT) to be headed by the President, invest in big data and technology for precise and evidence-based decision making, and improve supply chain logistics as well as expand market access, infrastructure projects
“I shall appropriately fund the research endeavours of the diverse national agricultural research institutions, including the universities.
“In moving forward, we must engage to create common wealth that sees to the needs of the common people” he said.
Dr Akoto, the two term Member of Parliament for the Kwadaso was born on October 19, 1949, to Baffour Osei Akoto, an influential Linguist at Manhyia and a member of the National Liberation Movement.
He started his tertiary education at the University of Ghana, Legon where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture.
He was later awarded a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and later a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Cambridge.
He has worked with the International Coffee Organisation in London and consulted extensively for the World Bank on soft commodities such as cocoa, coffee and sugar.
He was in 2017 appointed the Minister of Food and Agriculture, a post he resigned from early this year to pursue the dream of becoming a President of Ghana on the ticket of the NPP.