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Minority rejects bumper harvest claim

PTHE debate on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s address to Parliament on the state of the nation entered day-three yesterday with Majority and Minority members of the House facing off over claims by the President that, Ghana in 2018 produced so much to the extent that it exported some crops to its neighbours.

President Akufo-Addo in that message delivered to Parliament on February 21, reported that Ghana last year exported cassava, rice, yellow and white maize, soya, plantain, cowpea and yam to Burkina Faso, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire “in considerable quantities.” 

“We had a bumper harvest of produce, and last year, we did not import a single grain of maize,” President Akufo-Addo said.

But the Ranking Member on the Food and Agriculture Committee, Eric Opoku, said President Akufo-Addo misrepresented the facts when he appeared before the lawmakers. 

According to the MP, Ghana fell on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) food security reserves here in Ghana for 2,750 tonnes of cereals to support the School Feeding Programme. 

“The question is that; at the time that we are trumpeting all over that we have produced so much cereals to the extent that we are even exporting the excess, why do we have to fall on the strategic stocks which have been created for member states in times of need?

“So, if Ghana was not in need, why did we go for those items?” Mr Opoku asked. 

At an event where the crops, in his words were “borrowed” to Ghana, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources said the decision for the regional body to give the grains to Ghana was because of its “commitment to refilling the warehouse grain for grain by March 2019.” 

This arrangement, Mr Opoku said could not be anything else than borrowing from ECOWAS to support the School Feeding Programme. 

Disputing claims by the Majority members that the request to utilise the food stuff to avoid it going waste was at the request of ECOWAS, Mr Opoku, MP, Asunafo South said, “it is not at the request of ECOWAS that strategic stock has been created to support member states upon request. Ghana requested for it.” 

Dr Sagre Bambangi, a Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of annual crops, in defence of the President insisted that Ghana exported the crops listed by the President, and did not request for the food stock. 

The ECOWAS, he said, negotiated with the government of Ghana, through the National Buffer Stock Company, for Ghana to make use of the foodstuffs and then replenish it to avoid the deterioration of the quality of the stock.

Dr Bambangi explained that it was a normal practice over the years for the ECOWAS to request of Ghana to make use of the stock when it was not immediately needed.

“It is a management strategy that we use to utilise what is in stock, clean the warehouse and replenish it. It is just to make sure that, we don’t, at the end of the day, give out poor food,” Dr Bambangi, MP, Walewale said.  

He continued: “Even if we had kept that food, it is possible that at the time they will need it, it will not be of good quality. We didn’t need that particular food at the time.”

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CAPTION: Mr Eric Opoku

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