A country without a vibrant agricultural sector is virtually dead, since it has to depend on other countries to feed its people.
Food is one of the major things that keep humanity alive because without it we will starve to death.
It is the reason a larger portion of the budget of most households is spent on food: without food, no production or development is meaningful.
The most important input needed for food production or agriculture is arable land and nature has endowed our country with many many acres of fertile land.
Unfortunately, perhaps as a result of the abundance of this natural resource, which is the envy of nations that have to contend with rocky, unproductive land, some of which are covered by water, we are abusing this very vital resource.
Although we have a Town and Country Planning Department in every metropolis, municipality and district across the country, we seem not to have a grip on the proper demarcation of our lands for the right purposes.
Ongoing developments, especially in our big cities, are haphazardly done, in most cases putting the cart before the horse. The provision of open spaces is mostly done as an afterthought, or developers are allowed to encroach on lands earmarked for such purposes.
Our agriculture is suffering the same brunt, with arable lands falling to the various estate development efforts going on, without thinking about the repercussions that trend will have on the country in due course, if we let that trend to continue.
The Daily Graphic is not against the development of housing for rental or sale to the public. Indeed, that development has the ability to deal with the housing deficit we are experiencing as a country.
Our challenge, as advanced brilliantly by the Ashaiman municipality’s 2016 Best Farmer, 93-year-old Alhaji Malik Yaba, is the indiscriminate sale of lands meant for food production.
As Alhaji Yaba put it: “We are importing virtually all the major foodstuffs from neighbouring countries because we have sold all arable lands for the purposes of estate development.”
If we claim that agriculture is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy, then we need to stop paying lip service to the sector.
We are not by any means suggesting that nothing is being done by the government to improve the sector, as we are aware that there have been many interventions, such as the National Farmers Day instituted as far back as 1985 to encourage farmers to ply their trade and continue to feed the nation.
However, we are of the view that if we see agriculture as a major catalyst that can drive our economy, then we need to rethink the sale of our arable lands for the purposes of housing and other developments that will eventually crowd out agriculture.
Indeed, we need to activate the Land Use and Spatial Planning Bill 2016 that was passed into law by Parliament earlier in the year to ensure the proper use of the country’s land resource.