THE flag bearer of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Dr Edward Mahama, has said that agriculture would be the fulcrum of PNC’s economic recovery and emancipation for Ghana.
He said a nation that could not feed itself was not an independent one.
He has, therefore, pledged to support all farmers and fishermen with the necessary incentives to increase their productivity when PNC assumed power.
He said this would lead to an increase in incomes, reduce poverty and boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
Dr Mahama, who made the pledge at a press conference in the Techiman Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region on Tuesday, as part of his one-week tour of the region, stated that a PNC government would also set up agro-processing factories, and provide them with the necessary inputs to add value to agricultural produce in order to prevent the annual glut experienced by farmers.
The PNC flag bearer said irrigation would be the backbone of the party’s agricultural revolution to move the country from depending on rains.
He further said this would sustain an economic growth rate of not less than 10 per cent a year for at least two decades and even beyond.
The flag bearer noted that about 80 per cent of the national population derived its livelihood from self-employment in land-based economic activities, such as farming, poultry and fishing and, therefore, attributed a lack of real economic growth of the country to the neglect of the vast population of operators in the private sector, saying that “agricultural development is the same as rural development and poverty alleviation”.
He lamented that the nation’s rice import bill had risen from about $150million to about $450million since 2000, adding that this money could have boosted the economy in many other areas.
Dr Mahama, therefore, pledged that a PNC government would provide subsidies to local rice and small-scale poultry farmers in the country to increase their production, and would thus cut importation of rice and other poultry products into the country.
He promised that the School Feeding Programme under a PNC administration would use locally produced polished rice and also add a piece of locally grown chicken to each child’s lunch under the programme, as a way of encouraging local rice and poultry farmers to produce more.
He said a PNC government would use the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and the National Investment Bank (NIB), which were established to provide the necessary assistance for both agriculture and agro-based industry growth of the country, saying that "Ghanaians can, and will take control of the commanding heights of the economy under a PNC administration".
Touching on education, Dr Mahama pledged that a PNC government would establish public universities in all the 10 regions of the country.
He thus called on the electorate to examine the presidential aspirants' committmment and sincerity to move the country forward, saying that since he had demonstrated leadership of focus he was the right person to lead Ghana, and urged the electorate to give him their mandate.
The flag bearer was accompanied by Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, the National Chairman of the party; Hajia Ajara Ali, National Women's Organiser; Hakim Asante, National Publicity Secretary; Sadiq Kwashie, Deputy National Organiser, and Nana Kwadwo Kyeremeh, the Brong Ahafo Regional Chairman.
Alhaji Ramadan, for his part, said the party was working seriously to field parliamentary candidates in all the 230 constituencies to ensure that it had the majority in the next Parliament to make it easier for a PNC government in power to pass its policies in Parliament.
Dr Mahama and his entourage later called on the Techiman Traditional Council and Zongo chiefs in Techiman.
The flag bearer's tour of the Brong Ahafo Region has taken him to Tano North and South Asunafo North and South, Asutifi North and South, Dormaa West and East, Berekum, Atebubu/Amantin and Pru constituencies.