Peasant farmers hail Agric minister

Dr. Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Agric

Dr. Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Agric

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has commended the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afreyie Akoto, for outlining areas to be tackled to help transform agriculture, when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament.

“The association is particularly elated with the minister’s position not to bring his personal opinion on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to influence introduction of GMOs in Ghana,” a statement signed by the national president of PFAG, Abdul Rahman Mohammed, copied to the Ghanaian Times, said.

The association, however, expressed disappointment at what it said is an attempt by the minister to misinform Ghanaians about the true implication of the Plant Breeders Bill to agricultural development in the country, at his vetting.

According to the statement, “Plant Breeders Bill is only protecting the interest of foreign merchants and corporations. Because it is only these merchants and corporations, which can produce seeds that are new, distinct, uniform, and  stable, as stated in clause 3 of the bill.”

The association said “The attempts by the Minister to create the impression to the Vetting Committee and the general public that the Plant Breeders Bill has been misinterpreted or misunderstood by its opponents to mean the introduction of GMOs is rather unfortunate.”

The statement indicated that “What is even sadder is that he managed to convince members of the Committee that Food Sovereignty Ghana, a civil society organisation, did not actually know what it was about when it petitioned the Committee not to approve the Minister-designate.”

“PFAG would like to put on record that the campaign against the passing of the Plant Breeders Bill in its current form and the campaign against the introduction of GMOs are separate and distinct,” it s added.

The campaign against the Plant Breeders Bill began in 2013. After thorough analysis of the Bill, the group identified serious negative implications to Ghanaian small holder farmers should it become law.

The statement explained that the former  Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, was petitioned after all attempts to explain the negative effects of the Bill to Parliament and demonstrations by farmers, consumer groups and other Ghanaians across various parts of Ghana, had failed.

“The then Speaker of Parliament magnanimously heeded to the petition and referred the Bill for further consultation by Parliamentary and Legal Committee of Parliament. Unfortunately, all efforts to engage the above mentioned Committee on the concerns proved futile,” it said.

According to the statement, the Select Committee rather decided to engage other groups that were already promoting the Bill, leaving out the farmers, who were directly affected by the Bill.

“Ghanaian farmers are profoundly grateful to the immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Adjaho for putting first the interest of Ghanaian farmers above all other things. The farmers also hope the current Speaker of Parliament will continue from where his predecessor left,” it said.

The Food Sovereignty Platform is made up of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, General Agricultural Workers Union, Ghana Muslims Mission, Food Sovereignty Ghana, Agricultural Sovereignty Ghana, Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development, traditional authorities and Centre for No Till Agriculture and consumer groups.

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