Agriculture is said to be the main foundation on which the socio-economic development of the country hinges. It provides food for Ghanaians and also offers job opportunities for majority both at the formal and informal sectors of the economy. The sector engages both academics and non-academics in its management to ensure that the nation is secured in food production for domestic use and for export. Regrettably, the country over the years in spite of the favourable agriculture environment continues to suffer and register unappreciable growth to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP. One is quick to refer to General Kuntu Acheampong’s popular Operation Feed Yourself that saw the nation triumph in food production, producing enough to feed the population and for export. It is worrying that the same cannot be said now with improved technology.
Agriculture, about 40 years ago, despite the constraint on land acquisition, lack of technology, unfavourable weather pattern, high interest rate and the use of hoes and cutlasses, people find it attractive to engage in it. Registering zero percent growth in agriculture is not good for Ghana's development, in view of the critical role of agriculture to national economic growth. Ghana has all it takes to make agriculture attractive. The late Dan Lartey became popular for his domestication slogan where he stressed the need to eat what we grow and grow what we eat. Many did not take it seriously, even though it was important to use it to motivate the citizens to go into agriculture. It was therefore heartwarming that the recent New Year School focused on the need to roll out a new policy for the Agriculture sector to enable the nation to become self-sufficient in food production.
The policy when rolled out, will make the sector very attractive to the youth, create over 700,000 jobs, reduce food, meat, fish and poultry product import bill. If indeed, a percentage of the import bill alone is invested in making the sector attractive, Ghana will be the winner. Cocoa production over the years has been so politicized that the target of one million metric tonnes which Ghana came close to achieving when the mass cocoa spraying exercise was introduced under the Kufuor administration has remained a dream.
The sector is bedeviled with corruption such that unless the problem is addressed Ghana’s dream of recapturing the top spot as the world leading producer will never be realised. The Crops Research and Cocoa Research Institutes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have come out with early matured, disease resistant, relatively cost productive, drought resistant and environmentally friendly planting crops materials for farmers to adopt. What is perhaps left is for government to have a clear vision and come out with workable policies that will improve on agricultural modernisation. It will make agriculture a preferred choice as business, instead of being considered as a hobby.
It is only through this that those who will go into agriculture irrespective of the number involved, whether literate, poor and aged can still make Ghana a real agriculture nation where we will be able to produce enough at a reasonable cost for local consumption and for export.
By Thomas Nsowah-Adjei, a journalist.