Tuesday, 28 June 2011

POVERTY: Ghana: Government must pay attention to agriculture to eradicate poverty – Kufuor

22 June 2011
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor Former President John Agyekum Kufuor

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has reiterated the need for government to attach utmost importance to agriculture if the country was to achieve its first Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme hunger and poverty by 2015.
According to him, Agriculture is the bedrock of the country's economy and if the government does not commit to sustaining and formulating new policies for the sector, the country may fall back into poverty.
Former President Kufuor, who was speaking on Dwaso Nsem on Adom FM on Wednesday from the United States, was commenting on a World Bank report that about 30% of the population is wallowing in poverty.
In his analysis of what could possibly account for that situation, Mr. Kufuor explained that the country’s farmers are growing old while the younger generation is not taking up farming and unless they embrace agriculture actively, there will be problems for the country.
He also attributed the poverty rate to the increasing population, explaining that if the pace at which the population increases outweighs productivity, then there is bound to be an increase in the poverty rate.
He therefore suggested that government should pay particular attention to the agriculture sector, stressing the need for farmers to be encouraged with policies that will benefit them and urge them on to do more.
President Kufuor emphasized the need for government to help farmers access loans to produce on large scale basis and boost productivity.
He said during his tenure, his administration put in place some initiatives which included providing fertilizers and pesticides for free to farmers while giving them extensive education on new farming trends through Agricultural officers.
He said through those policies, cocoa production increased from 350,000 tonnes when the NPP took over in 2000 to 750,000 tonnes and now production is at almost a million tonnes.
The former President also talked about the Presidential Special Initiatives on Oil Palm (through which over 600,000 hectares of oil palm trees were planted), cassava and others whose initiation, he said, people scoffed at but went a long way to encourage production on a large scale.
He said since times are changing and innovations are coming up, government should also study the new ways of doing things and implement them in the country.
He called for a critically look at planned parenthood to help manage the rate at which the population is increasing.
The World Food Prize Foundation honoured former President Kufuor, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, for creating and implementing government policies that alleviated hunger and poverty in their countries.
President Kufuor while commenting on the honour said he had not expected to receive that honour although he had taken steps to help eradicate poverty.
He said he put in place policies especially in the Agriculture sector which went a long way to help halve extreme poverty adding that now Ghana is considered as a leading light in achieving the Millennium Development Goal 1 by 2015.

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