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John Tia returns to full time farming after ambassadorial duties

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Having returned last year, Mr John Tia told Graphic Online from his maize farm Sunday evening that “I am now continuing from where I left off.”
Having returned last year, Mr John Tia told Graphic Online from his maize farm Sunday evening that “I am now continuing from where I left off.”

Ghana’s former Ambassador to Cuba and long-time Member of Parliament (MP) for Talensi in the Upper East Region, Mr John Akologu Tia, has gone back to his first love, farming, after returning from the Caribbean Island nation this year.

Although on the quiet, the former Information Minister is hoping to help feed the nation through his rice, maize and groundnut farms in the Upper East Region, where he is largely based since his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), lost the December 2016 elections.

A farmer since childhood and his school days at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), Mr Tia blended the venture with his parliamentary duties between 1993 and 2013 but put it on hold to serve the country in Cuba, when he was appointed Ambassador in 2014.

Having returned last year, he told Graphic Online from his maize farm Sunday evening that “I am now continuing from where I left off.”

He currently owns a 13-acre maize and a 4.5-acre rice farm at Pusu-Namongo and 10-acres of groundnut farms in Datuku and Yameriga, all in the Talensi District.

Mr Tia explained that his decision to keep alive his childhood hobby was part of his desire to help ensure food sufficiency in the district and the region at large.

It is also an opportunity to stay connected with his people, the Talensis, majority of whom are farmers, he said.

Having returned last year, Mr John Tia told Graphic Online from his maize farm Sunday evening that “I am now continuing from where I left off.”

Keeping fit

Although a farmer-based district, worsening climatic conditions, lack of investments in the largely family-based farms and slow infusion of agrictech in the area has virtually made food cultivation a loss-making venture for the inhabitants.

This has contributed in raising poverty levels in the district and the region at large, with majority of residents relying on foodstuffs from neigbouring communities and Burkina Faso, where the risks of farming are comparatively lower.

While the challenges confronting farming in the area are daunting, Mr Tia said they presented an opportunity for seasoned politicians and farmers like him to take up the mantle to help reduce hunger and feed the nation.

He explained that his decision to continue with farming was also to help serve as an example to the youth, majority of whom perceive farming to be a preserve of rural folks.

Beyond helping contribute to food security and sustainability, the five-term former MP said continuing with farming also helps him to remain active, as it was some form of exercise.

Support peasant farmers

He used the opportunity to appeal for support to farmers in the district and the region at large. While persons like him could afford some implements and inputs, he said majority of the rural folks could not afford such necessities and that was affecting their outputs.

Given that farming in the area has largely been subsistent, he said most farmers have been tilling the same pieces of lands for decades without enriching the soil beyond manure and compost.

This, he said required that the government supported them with some ferilisers to help replenish the waning nutrients.

He also used the opportunity to challenge the government to make good its pledge to construct a dam each in every community, explaining that such a gesture could help improve dry season farming.

Mr Tia was MP of Talensi between 1993 and 2013. In 2014, he was appointed Ghana’s Ambassador to Cuba, where he served until early this year, when the NDC lost the general elections.