The Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Mr Paul Victor Obeng, had advocated the establishment of an Agricultural Estate Company that would be resourced to acquire and service large tracks of land for onward lease to groups and individuals for farming.
That company, he said, could be owned by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) together with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is an arm of the World Bank, and the Agricultural Development Bank, among other private sector players.
Mr Obeng gave this advice in what can be described as his last print media interview on the side-lines of the just ended National Economic Forum at Senchi in the Eastern Region.
At the high profile forum, Mr Obeng, popularly referred to as PV, had earlier told the forum that the country’s agricultural sector needed policy stimulations and modernisation that would make available serviced lands to interested people and institutions for farming.
“The IFC, ADB and the others can come together to form something like an agricultural estate company that can use its strength to take up thousands of hectares of land that is wasting away in the hinterlands, service those lands and then sublet them to groups and people to farm”, he said.
“The issue with agriculture needs modern techniques to make it appealing to the youth and that is what the commission is focusing on doing,” Mr Obeng, a former Senior Advisor to the government in the Rawlings regime explained in the interview.
Once that was done, he said the issue of importing foodstuffs to augment local production and its pass-on effects on the economy and the cedi in particular would become a thing of the past.
“If we put the right mechanisms in place in our agricultural sector, then we would be able to grow more, export more and contain the foreign exchange pressures because the balance of payment pressures that we are experiencing and talking about emanate from our over reliance on imports, including even foodstuffs,” Mr Obeng said in what can be described as his last official assignment to the state.
MoFA needs on-the-field professionals
Mr Obeng, who was noted for his cutting-edge policies both in government and in the private sector, had chided the staff of MoFA for being arm-chair professionals and deciding to work from their offices rather than moving into the fields where majority of the work that was coordinated by the ministry took place.
“If we are able to move about two-thirds of the people at MoFA into the field to properly supervise the activities of farmers and see to the day-to-day operations in the farms, then MoFA will be able to support the farmers who need them most. We need professional agricultural extension staff and not people who will sit in the offices,” he added.
Zonal development strategies
Mr Obeng also hinted of plans by the NDPC, which is responsible for planning and coordinating the development policies of the country, to fashion out zonal development policies that would be limited to the various zones in the country.
He mentioned the Western and Eastern Corridor Development plans as examples of the zonal-specific development strategies being initiated by the commission.
Such strategies, he said, would address the common developmental challenges facing the various communities within the catchment areas after which they would be linked up to the national development strategy.
“The idea is to create synergies and link them to the top so that you don’t start developing from the top down but from the down up,” he said.
The Chairman of the NDPC was an integral part of the National Economic Forum which put together a 22-point proposal ,‘Senchi Consensus’, meant to take the country out of its present challenges.
Unfortunately, however, he did not live to see the implementation of those policies.
Mr Obeng, aged 67, passed away on Saturday, May 17, after a short illness.
Prior to his death, PV, a Senior Policy Advisor to the President, was also the Board Chairman of Guinness Ghana Limited; Chairman of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Chairman of OB Associates, a consulting firm; Chairman of the Ghana Agro and Food Company (GAFCO) and former Chairman of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council.
He had also served under the PNDC government.
He was a former student of the Opoku Ware Secondary School and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where he graduated as a Mechanical Engineer.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|