The General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) Edward Kareweh has doubted the ability of Agriculture Minister Owusu Afriyie Akoto to manage the government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
Speaking to Emmanuel Ohene-Gyan on Empires FM’s Western Today, Mr Kareweh argued the sector minister has run out of ideas to add any progress to the development of the agricultural sector.
President Akufo-Addo has often touted the progress of the planting for food and jobs programme alluding to the feat it has achieved.
However six months down the line the reverse can be said about the current state of the programme as the sector minister Owusu Afryie Akoto has expressed worry describing the current state of the programme as precarious.
According to Mr Afriyie Akoto, importers of fertiliser under the PJF were under siege by their financiers because of GH¢940 million owed dealers in fertiliser and other subsidies since the beginning of last year, the government had been able to pay only GH¢250 million.
Mr Kareweh expressed “within six months, the one who is in charge, he comes out to tell us he is worried because he has had supplies but they’ve not paid therefore the future of the programme is in a precarious state.”
He also questioned the government’s exit plan on the subsidies for fertilizers and seedlings.
“Subsidy is a developmental tool, when you need it you use it when you don’t need it you keep it, so where is the exit plan on all these fertilizers and seedlings and now because they don’t know we are indebted “
This, he said, is a complete misapplication of the subsidies.
Mr Kareweh believes the rippling effects of this could result in another economic crunch.
“You see the way things are linked, a whole state went in for inputs and they won’t pay, all those suppliers are owing banks, the banks cannot get their money back, then you (government) come and close those banks that they are not performing.
“It is there for all to see whether there are ideas if these are to lead us into this indebtedness and put the whole program in jeopardy, how can we say he has ideas and this is the more reason why he shouldn’t have been renewed “.
He further noted that the minister’s seeming evasive nature during his vetting for reappointment has resulted in what is being experienced.
“When it came to the vetting of the minister, his performance was not impressive, someone who has been on the job for four years you should have everything at your fingertips but when they asked him what is food security, his definition was totally unacceptable, he was also evasive when he was asked questions, but eventually he was approved “
Owing to this, Mr Kareweh believes it would only be proper if the sector minister is relieved of his position as all efforts made by GAWU to the ministry to help change the narrative have been brushed aside.