Residents of Hikpo, a suburb of Sogakope in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region have exposed the Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto over $2.85 million grant to support vegetable crops production.
According to the residents led by the Assembly Member for Hikpo/Agbagorme Electoral Area Mr. Johnson Cobby Amedzo, they learnt South Tongu District was selected among four (4) Districts to benefit from government’s $2.85 million grant to support vegetable production in the country.
Mr. Johnson Cobby Amedzo explained that, the allocation of the $2.85 million grant meant for South Tongu District as said by the Minister to support vegetable crops farmers in Hikpo among other communities cannot be traced.
He explained that, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto’s assertion on the floor of Parliament on Friday, 11th March, 2022 stating that, vegetable formers in Hikpo benefited fully from the grant is not true.
Mr. Amedzo indicated that, the only project the Hikpo community benefited from in the $2.85 million grant was an uncompleted borehole at a disadvantage area, which was used to test the salinity of the water, and later abondoned.
The residents of the Hikpo community cannot tell the whereabout of the grant allocation for South Tongu District to support vegetable crops farmers. The people are surprised to have heard the proclamation of the Minister while responding to a question filed by their Member of Parliament Hon. Wisdom Kobena Mensah Woyome asking Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto to outline government’s plans for the farmers.
“This is what I can point at. This uncompleted borehole. They only came to test the salinity of the water in the uncompleted borehole. We can’t tell where the rest of the money goes.”
“We are surprised as a community to have heard the Agric minister spoke on the floor of parliament that, Hikpo as a community in South Tongu benefits from the money.” Mr. Johnson Cobby Amedzo told Coverghana.com.gh reporter.
The residents through their Assembly member are calling on the Ministry to bring back the money to finish the work.
Hon. Kobena Mensah Woyome was alarmed upon seeing the work done by the Ministry in his Constituency. He believes that, the reality on ground is far different from what the Minister said on the floor of parliament.
Mr. Woyome said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture must explained to the people of South Tongu what exactly the money was used for.
He added that, there is no sign of the said amount quoted by the Minister on the floor of parliament and must be investigated.
“Who is shortchanging the government. This is a serious matter that need to be investigated for more details from the ministry. There is no sign of such expenditure equivalent to the portion of the money meant for South Tongu. There is no value for money.”
On Friday, 11th March, 2022, the Member of Parliament for South Tongu Constituency Honourable Kobena Mensah Woyome has questioned the Minister for Food and Agriculture Hon. Owusu Afriyie Akoto on the floor of Parliament to give steps the Ministry is taking to assist okro and other vegetable farmers in the South Tongu District as a way of adding value through processing to maintain stable prices on the market to prevent post-harvest losses.
According to the MP, in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region, communities such as Tordzinu, Chavanya, Hikpo, Agbagorme, Agbakope, Lakpo, Dabala, Dabala Junction among many are into major vegetables farming as a means of livelihoods.
In view of this, the Lawmaker has filed a motion requesting the Minister for Food and Agriculture to outline the plans being taken by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government to support the vegetable farmers within the area.
In answering the question, the Minister said, his Ministry has rolled out a number of interventions to support vegetable farmers including those in the South Tongu District.
Dr. Owusu said, the Ghana Per-urban Vegetables Value Chain Project (GPVVCP) which ended in June 2020 covered four (4) Districts including the South Tongu District, which was funded by a grant of US$ 2.85 million from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) drawn from a trust arrangement with the World Bank.
The again said, the South Tongu District is well known for its productions of vegetables particularly okro. However, high and persistent post-harvest losses have constituted a major drawback to the efforts of the hardworking farmers of the district, hence, the need for Government’s support.
The Minister notes that, the situation is exacerbated by inadequate knowledge of value addition practices to secure farmer income.
Mr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto while responding to the MP’s question disclosed that, supervision of the project was undertaken by Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through the Directorate of Crop Services (DCS) whilst management support and project coordination was assigned to the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP).
In the area of irrigation, the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) provided requisite technical support to meet the Project Development Objective of the improving productivity, and market access by beneficiary vegetable farmers in selected peri-urban communities in Ghana including Hikpo in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region.
He added that, the knowledge required from the project by beneficiary farmers include technical and managerial capacity in baseline, market survey, business analysis and improved record keeping.
According to him, the farmers also benefited from training in Soil and Nutrient Management and participatory scenario planning to mitigate the negative impact of climate change in production activities.
He further said, farmers of Hikpo received training under the Ghana Green Label Certification Scheme to access high-value markets.
Mr. Akoto added that, presently, the certified farmers have been linked to an exporter who has established a business relationship with them.
Aside this support, the Minister said, farmers continue to benefit from the subsidised fertilizer and improved seeds provided under the planting for Food and Jobs Campaign and related programme implemented by the South Tongu District Department of Agriculture.
He vehemently said, the Ministry is very much abreast with vegetable farmer activities and the South Tongu District through monitoring reports on extension services provided by farmers under the supervision of Department of Agriculture in the district.
Unfortunately, the Minister’s response to the South Tongu Member of Parliament came as a surprise to the people of South Tongu especially Xikpo. They noted with much disappointment saying, the Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has lied while responding to the MP’s question.
According to him, among others, the establishment of three (3) Greenhouse technology villages in Greater Accra (Dawhenya), Central (Bodwiase) and Ashanti (Akomadaa) Regions amply attest to this assertion.
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