Planting for Food and Jobs programme failure — Minority
The National Democratic Congress Minority group in Parliament has said the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme (PFJ) has failed, and that it is a resource looting platform disguised as a flagship programme.
It said the agriculture sector in the last six years had shown a lack of in-depth policy formulation and implementation.
In a statement issued and signed by the Deputy Ranking Member on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs in Parliament, Dr Godfred Seidu Jasaw, he questioned the government’s agriculture policy objective.
It asked, for instance, what the exact policy in place to stimulate crop production was particularly by the small holder farmers and what the exact quantum and flow of the investment by the government in specific prioritised commodities along the value chain was, among other things.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, had informed Parliament during the mid-year budget presentation that the PFJ programme had ended since December, 2022.
Subsequently, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, launched the second phase of the programme in Tamale a few days ago.
But the statement said the PFJ had a high budgetary strain, and as such was a drain on the economy.
It said the programme was burdened with non-adoption of the value chain approach, limited access to agricultural credit, low prioritisation of national strategic stock and limited focus on the needs of small commercial , medium and large scale farmers.
“We have been arguing that there is no elaborate value chain arrangement in place to ensure efficient utilisation of soya, maize and rice that were supposed to be produced under the subsidy programme.
“That is why we witnessed recent shortages in maize to feed the poultry farms (many of which are closed now) as well as the shortages and high increases of food prices witnessed recently (850,000 more families driven into abject poverty due to food price increases),” it said.
The Minority said Ghana’s priority crop production efforts were not linked to the local industry or even a dedicated export market.
This, it said, reflected a deliberate misrepresentation of the agricultural policy architecture, poor and/or misdirected investments in the sector and an over-hyping of the so-called successes of the government’s flagship PFJ programme.
The statement alleged that the recent expenditure on PFJ alone was mindboggling.
For instance in 2021 alone, the government spent GH¢439 million; 2022, GH¢614 million; 2023, GH¢660 million.
It said after six years of implementation of the PFJ programme, the government could still not account for “the so-called increased production figures” that were reported by the the then minister for agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto.
It questioned where the maize was?
Where is the rice?
Where are the soybeans?
, saying, all other things being equal, it expected the programme to have resulted in a glut in the system and that should have driven down food prices.
The Minority said on the contrary, food produce were scarce and prices were skyrocketing.
“We have been tricked.
After reading through the PFJ Phase Two programme document, we are sad to report that there is nothing substantially new in it ,and it will not deliver any significant march to food security for this country.
“It’s aimed at erasing the mess of PFJ One and creating an image-saving platform to continue the dissipation of the country’s resources through establishments to their friends and family’’, it added.