Afriyie Akoto: From Agric Minister to a shot at the presidency

Dr Afriyie Owusu Akoto until Tuesday, January 10 was the Minister of Agric

He will want to be taken seriously as a frontrunner in the upcoming New Patriotic Party’s presidential primaries.

His resignation comes barely days after that of now-former Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen.

Dr Afriyie Akoto’s intentions of leading the NPP into the 2024 elections are well and long known and if anyone was in doubt, President Nana Akufo-Addo introducing him and Alan Kyerematen was indication enough of how serious the 74-year-old Cambridge-trained agricultural economist is.

The two-term Member of Parliament for Kwadaso Constituency, if he wins to lead the NPP, will go into the 2024 election at age 75 and a successful presidential bid will have him go into the annals as the oldest person voted to be president of the land.

But even way before that, he has a herculean task to impress the newly introduced college by the party to trim down candidates to only three before they are presented to the bigger electorate of delegates.

The newly elected General Secretary, JFK, had announced national executives would conduct their own assessment of ministers and demand reshuffle of under-performing ministers.

But if anything is sure, it is that Dr. Afriyie Akoto was at no risk of losing his job as Agriculture Minister on the score of this assessment. His over 50 years friendship with the President will count in a regime built on loyalty than anything else.

The Agric Minister has survived several onslaughts especially during the implementation of the Ministry’s flagship programme synonymous with Dr Afriyie Akoto, the Planting for Food and Jobs and most recent the PFJ Market.

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His most memorable moments as minister have been during periods where he claimed food was in abundance. This was met with public uproar and disagreement especially from market women.

“Because of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Programme, there are abundant of food in the country. We’re in the harvest season of maize and when you go to the savanna regions and the transitional zones such as Techiman and others, maize are in abundance, which indicates that the PFJ has really come to rescue the country from hunger,” he said on the floor of Parliament.

“Mr. Speaker, food accessibility in Ghana is more than satisfactory. In recent times price hikes of food commodities in the urban centres particular Accra is creating an erroneous impression that food has become inaccessible.

“I have just returned from a tour of regions in the southern belt of the country and I can assure you that food prices in the urban centres particularly Accra, are a far cry from what pertains in particular production centres in the regions.

“With the rapid development of the seed industry I have been given the honour of the award by the African Union as the seed champion of Africa so you are speaking to a Champion.”

He also claimed under his tenure as minister, the Agric Ministry has had the best growth since 1992.

“This year is exceptional because of the strong performance of agriculture, which we all know has been the case. The sector grew at the rate of 8.4%, which is the highest since 1992. Annual growth had never exceeded 8%, but we have gone beyond this.”

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The no-nonsense and tough-talking Dr Akoto Afriyie is in his biggest race yet – the coming days will be interesting one to watch.

By Cyril D Dogbe

The writer is a journalist with Media General.


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