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Gov’t justifies 745,000 jobs in agric sector

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has come out to justify the 745,000 jobs that the sector minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, touts as the success story of the first phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.

Addressing the media, the minister said even though they missed their 750,000 target, they have been able to create 745,000 jobs, a statement which has since raised curiosity within the public space with many questioning the veracity of the figure and others questioning the nature of the jobs.

The Member of Parliament for the Keta Constituency, Richard Quarshigah, is one of the people who have publicly called out the ministry to provide evidence of the jobs it claims to have created.

“If you have created jobs, you must have some tangibilities to that effect. You are not giving us any figures, you are not telling us the number of jobs that were created within the various sectors within the value chain,” he said.

Following the pressure from the public, the Press Secretary of the Ministry, Issah Alhassan, in an interview on 3FM’s Sunrise offered clarity on the issue, breaking down the number of jobs within the various sectors.

He said the programme has been planned and budgeted for and ought to be “put into perspective in order to cure the mischief” and to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the figure.

The secretary explained that the programme may not be more visible in Accra because it was designed to enhance the rural economy by signing on 200,000 farmers nationwide.

According to him, it has so far succeeded because on every stage of the value chain someone gets to make a living.

“This whole thing is an arrangement that has been done and we make sure at every stage of the value chain, at every step on the way there is somebody there who is handling something to make sure that at the end of the day the person gets something into his pocket,” he said.

He added that the public’s notion of the jobs may have been misconstrued “so people thought that we were looking for people to go through an interview, and giving them offices and assigned duties, no”.

He argued that they have engaged the services of people across the country and  201,000 farmers benefitted from their  fertilizer, a figure he says exceeds their target by one 1000.

The President of the National Peasant Farmers Association, Charles Nyaba, who joined in the discussion, expressed the contentment of the Association for the programme, stating that it has helped them get the highest investment in 10 years.

He was, however, quick to deny knowledge of District Assemblies receiving five tractors each as part of the programme, a claim the Press Secretary of the ministry made while giving the breakdown of the jobs.

“My challenge with the issues put up by Press Secretary have with the ministry provided five tractors to every district as part of this year’s programme. This is actually news to me,” he said on Monday.

He went on to clarify his stance saying, “In September 28, 29 we did monitoring of the programme in all of the 10 regions of which the Deputy Minister of Agric was in Tamale, together with the regional minister. The farmers came out with their report on areas that they think the programme was good. The issue of provision of tractors never came up, not even in the programme itself and I have never seen any of our farmers saying they have had tractors as part of the programme”.

Issah Alhassan could not immediately give the number of new farmers who have been signed on to the programme but he maintained that no government in the history of Ghana has been as sensitive to the plight of farmers as the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

By P. D Wedam|3news.com|Ghana

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