The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, took his campaign to the Brong Ahafo Region with visits to the Banda and Tain constituencies, with the assurance that the reversal of Ghana’s declining agricultural sector will be one of major areas of priority under his government, God-willing, from January 2017.
With the mainstay of the majority of residents in Banda and Tain being agriculture, Nana Akufo-Addo indicated if the country is to make any meaningful change in the lives of her citizens, “our efforts must be directed at this sector. The majority of people can only feel a change in their lives when we develop agriculture.”
In spite of agriculture growing at 2.5% in 2015, as opposed to a growth rate of 7.4% at the end of 2008 when the NPP left office, Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that the NPP has well-thought out policies and programmes to improve agricultural productivity, so as to be able to improve on the quality of life of residents in the two constituencies, as well as that of the majority of Ghanaians.
One such policy, he noted, will be an aggressive diversification of agricultural products, akin to the developments in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
The diversification of Ivorian agriculture, through the cultivation of 5 major cash crops (cocoa, cotton, cashew, oil palm and coffee), the NPP flagbearer explained, has delivered $12 billion in export revenues for Cote d’Ivoire.
Ghana, on the other hand, earns some $2 billion from agricultural exports, largely from the sale of cocoa. This statistic, Nana Akufo-Addo said, will change under his administration.
With cashew farming being the mainstay of residents in Banda and Tain, and, indeed, a major source of income for thousands of farmers in 7 out of 10 regions in the country, Nana Akufo-Addo assured that his government will put in place measures to transform cashew into a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner for the country.
To this end, Nana Akufo-Addo assured cashew farmers in the country that his government will establish a Cashew Marketing Board (CMB), akin to the Cocoa Marketing Board (COCOBOD), which will guarantee a producer price for famers, as well as provide ready market for their produce.
In addition, the Board will encourage the production of cashew as well as the provision of research, extension, internal and external marketing, and quality control services.
“The NPP’s plans for the cashew industry, should Ghanaians give us their mandate, will bring a vast improvement in the lives of cashew farmers in every part of the country. What government does for cocoa farmers, my government will do the same for cashew farmers,” he added.
In addition, the NPP flagbearer indicated that under the ‘1-District-1-Factory’ policy, his government will help set up a factory in the district to process cashew and, thereby, help to create jobs for the people of the district.
Former presidential aspirant and former Minister for Trade, Industry and Presidential Special Initiatives, Alan Kyerematen, who accompanied the NPP flagbearer on his tour of the constituencies, reiterated that an Akufo-Addo-led NPP government will also facilitate the setting up of agro-industries in the Brong Ahafo region to add value to agricultural produce.
“On the back of an expanding and diversified agriculture, we will set Ghana on a solid platform for industrialisation, which will see economic growth matched by job creation,” he added.
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