The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of Trades Union Congress (Ghana) has observed the results of government’s flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, is not different from what they have previously seen after one year of its implementation.
The Union observed that even though, the government had promised to use agriculture modernization as means to achieve economic revolution and poverty reduction, that did not come to fruition as “the results are not different from the previous projects”.
In a statement commemorating the 34th Farmers Day Celebration, GAWU noted that the Planting for Food and Jobs programme among other government projects focus on promoting the use of agro-chemicals and mono cropping, a phenomenon the union fears could have negative implications.
The union cited for example that the approach of farming where farmers are encouraged to use agro chemicals and seeds which could originate from GMO sources has negative implication on farmers and consumers.
“Apart from the environmental and health implications of agro-chemicals, these inputs are expensive beyond the reach of small holder farmers, and also have potential to displace farmers’ ownership of seeds”, GAWU added.
GAWU also used the opportunity to draw government’s attention to some critical areas in the agricultural sector which need to be addressed to help advance the “Agriculture: Moving Ghana beyond Aid” theme for this year’s celebration.
GAWU has specifically mentioned the need for the government to put in place a workplace safety policy to protect them and provide logistics to enhance their work.
They are again calling on the government to “immediately return the COCOBOD to the Ministry of Finance to save it and the entire industry from destruction”.
The farmers have among other things raised concerns about the potential dangers in the intended merger between the Agricultural Development Bank and the National Investment Bank, and impending Plant Breeders Bill before parliament which they fear could pave way for the introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Below is the full statement of GAWU:
GAWU CONGRATULATES FARMERS ON 34TH NATIONAL FARMERS DAY
On the occasion of the 34th National Farmers Day — 2018, the leadership and the entire membership of the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) of Trades Union Congress (Ghana) wish to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the many hardworking farmers of Ghana.
The role that agriculture plays in the total contribution to GDP cannot be over emphasized. Agriculture is the mainstay of the country thus supporting livelihoods of many families, guaranteeing food security, reducing poverty in rural areas and promoting growth and national development. Consequently farmers remain the main pillar in this regard notwithstanding the myriad of challenges confronting them.
Past and recent governments including various stakeholders have attempted to address the many challenges confronting the agricultural sector and yet year in and year out issues of access to land and water resources, improved seeds, fertilizers, high levels of post-harvest losses, poor infrastructural development (road networks, irrigation, poser and storage facilities), agricultural credit, effects of trade liberalization policies, and access ty markets for agricultural produce and other remain persistent and widespread.
This year’s theme, “Agriculture: Moving Ghana beyond Aid” could not have been better. GAWU agrees in totality that agriculture will move the country beyond Aid and a certain consistency without the colors of various governments is key in achieving this great. move. We have no doubt that given the requisite attention and support, the hardworking farmers in Ghana can and will be able to produce to meet local demand, industry and for export.
As we acknowledge and celebrate farmers’ achievements and efforts on this occasion of 34th
National Farmers Day, GAWU wish to draw the government and all key stakeholders attention to the following nuances that might choke agriculture thus preventing Ghana from moving beyond Aid.
- Ministry of Agriculture and agriculture extension
We all know that Agriculture is the 3rd most dangerous work in the world. The institution that will help to move the sector and invariably Ghana beyond aid is in distress.
Agric. Extension Agents are exposed to workplace hazards. Agriculture is fraught with a lot of diseases due to exposure to chemicals and accidents on the roads and in the farm. However our agricultural workers do not have a workplace safety policy to protect them in their work.
Logistics to work is a problem. Motorbikes have been secured to be released for AEAs to work yet these motorbikes are sitting in Accra and are yet to be released. One then becomes curious as to why the motorbikes are still sitting in Accra when it is needed on the field.
Newly created districts need mobility to work. Organising this year’s farmers’ Day has been a challenge especially for these districts and so we will appeal to government to give them some of the old vehicles in the system whiles waiting on the new ones
Remuneration for Agricultural workers in Ghana is also nothing to write home about. When Agric
workers go on pension that is when they are affected most by diseases they contracted during their
working period. They are not able to take good care of themselves with their little pension money.
The decentralization policy of the government must be relooked at. It impeds the departments smooth implementation of programs. Moreover the departments are serious under resource.
Notwithstanding all these challenges, we in GAWU would want to commend the government on its effort to employ 2700 new AEAs to beef up the human resource in the agricultural sector ministry. We hope that students from the various agricultural training schools would be considered to reduce the unemployment rate in this category of graduates
- COCOA INDUSTRY
Cocoa undoubtedly has been the major source foreign exchange earner of the country and more
importantly a stable source of income for cocoa farmers and their families. It is therefore prudent that government intervention in the industry is thoroughly considered. Government policy to place the COCOBOD and the cocoa industry under the Ministry of Agriculture from the Ministry of Finance is yet to be justified. Since the policy was implemented in 2017, not much is there to show as a consequence. However, the COCOBOD is laboring under a myriad of administrative bottlenecks imposed on it from the Ministry of Agriculture. The Union therefore call on government to immediately return the COCOBOD to the Ministry of Finance to save it and the entire industry from destruction.
COUNCIL FOR SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH (CSIR)
The CSIR has been set up to spearhead Science and Technology development for the overall good of the country. However, the Council is under siege not only for inadequate funding, but their lands continue to be encroached. Ironically, some individuals in the political limelight seeking to enhance their parochial interest continue to encroach the lands with impunity. Among these lands is the CSIR Pokuase land under the care of the Animal Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The farmers day for this year is a dark day for workers of CSIR. The paradox is that the encroachment of the lands and destruction of the properties is unabating while the farmers day celebration is ongoing.
AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT BANK
The Agricultural Development Bank has been playing frontal role in agricultural financing in Ghana. The Bank has been the main financier of the annual best national farmer award. The Bank has also been critical in the mobilization of resources for agricultural development in general. In spite of the indisputable contribution to the promotion and development, government recent restructuring attitude for the Bank is bound to result in negative consequences. The attempt to merge adb and National Investment Bank (NIB) cannot be seen to be a solution to any real or perceived challenges, neither will it inure to the attainment of the government economic transformation agenda. The Agricultural Development Bank should be supported to continue to support agricultural financing in the country.
- Agro chemicals and agro ecology
The government of Ghana promised to use agriculture modernization as means to achieve economic revolution and poverty reduction by introducing a flagship programme called Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ). According to the Minister for agriculture, the program will be anchored on five pillars: the provision of improved seeds the supply of fertilizers, and the provision of dedicated extension services, marketing and the use of e agriculture. Unfortunately after more than one year of implementation the results are not different from the previous projects. The project among other government projects focus on promoting the use of agro-chemicals and mono cropping.
This approach of farming where farmers are encouraged to use agro chemicals and seeds which could originate from GMO sources has negative implication on farmers and consumers. Apart from the environmental and health implications of agro-chemicals, these inputs are expensive beyond the reach of small holder farmers, and also have potential to displace farmers’ ownership of seeds
- Genetically modified Organisms (GMOs) Seeds
As we acknowledge and celebrate farmers’ achievements and efforts on this occasion of 34th National Farmers Day, GAWU wish to remind the government and all key stakeholders to recognize smallholder farmers (who are mostly women) as the main investors in the agricultural sector. As such any attempt to support agriculture through policies and investments should focus on addressing the challenges confronting them as a matter of priority. The attempts of the government to modernize agriculture could lead to disastrous consequences for the sector and consumers. For instance the Plant Breeders Bill currently before parliament will only pave way for the introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and resources including genetically modified seeds and other planting materials. The Plant Breeders Bill if passed into law in its current form will undermine small holder access and control of seeds and planting materials, threaten farmers ingenious food systems and production practices, put health of consumers in danger with severe consequences for the development of the country. GAWU is also worried that the government’s unbridled importation of seeds for the planting for food and Jobs program has a high chance of introducing GMOs into the country.
As we assess the extent to which the National Farmers Day Celebration contribute to the agricultural Development in Ghana, GAWU look forward to a comprehensive review of the Farmers Day celebration to move away from its annual ritualistic nature and align it to a more radicalized, revolutionary and pragmatic national policies.
GAWU says AYEKOO! Long live all Farmers Long live GAWU
Long live Ghana
Source: 3news.com | Ghana