The flagbearer hopeful of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and immediate past Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has assured Ghanaians of using agriculture to attain the status of a first class economy when he become President in 2024.
He said under his presidency shall be a newly created Agricultural Management Team (AMT) chaired by himself, as President, to drive the agricultural development, in addition to the Economic Management Team to be headed by the Vice President.
"The AMT shall comprise seven agric-related ministries, namely: Food & Agriculture, Finance, Trade and Industry, Lands and Natural Resources, Transport, Local Government Decentralisation and Rural Development, and Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
"This is expected to improve supply chain logistics and expand market access, infrastructure projects such as feeder roads, hospitals, housing, rural electrification, irrigation and storage, among others," Dr Akoto said this yesterday in Accra, when he spoke on the topic "The future of the economy of Ghana."
The event gave the former agriculture minister the opportunity to share his insight into building the agricultural sector into a bedrock for financing the development of the rest of Ghana's economy.
Dr Akoto who used the event to officially announce his intention to contest the flagbearer position of the NPP to party faithful and Ghanaians, said, Ghana had to prioritise agricultural transformation at the highest level of government through the implementation of a well-defined vision and strategy.
He explained that such strategy should include, the need to prioritise investment to achieve sustainable food systems that would be non-negotiable to transform agriculture for the prosperity of all Ghanaians.
"Agricultural policy must be driven by evidence. It is essential that policy makers, farmers and actors in the value chain are trained to access the benefits of data for decision making.
"Precision agriculture that gives farmers the ability to use inputs more effectively to increase productivity will be prioritised," he said.
Dr Akoto was optimistic that, this would help curb the effects of climate change and sustain yields in farmers' fields, in order to grow crops that would be resilient to withstand drought, heavy rains and heat.
Touching on his achievement in the implementation of the government flagship programme, the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), he said, while acknowledging that there was a lot of room for improvement in the PFJ, he indicated the programme had received resounding success.
He said the government expenditure on fertiliser and improved seeds to contribute to the food and nutrition needs of the people amounted to GH¢2.6 billion between 2017-2021.
"The king of Mamprusi, the Nayiri, who has been a farmer all his life, in December 2019 when I visited his palace in Nalerigu, he was full of praises for the PFJ.
"He informed me that for the first time in his community, stocks of new maize which were being harvested at the time of my visit had been brought into his barn when old stocks from the previous year (2018) were still available. In other words, the King was acknowledging the success of the PFJ Programme," Dr Akoto said.
Dr Akoto began his journey into politics in Ghana in 1990 with the formation of the United Kingdom Branch of the Danquah-Busia Club with stalwarts like the late Mr J.H. Mensah.