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TUC questions policies geared at the agric sector
Posted on: 10-Jul-2013         Source: thebftonline.com
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) says that the agricultural sector which employs a very large proportion of Ghanaians has performed poorly in the last five years.

The growth of the agricultural sector declined from 7.2 percent in 2009 to 1.3 percent in 2012.

The TUC, which held its first bi-annual General Council meeting last week, observed that this is especially so when viewed against the background of an average GDP growth of over eight percent per annum in the last five years.

In 2011, when the country recorded the highest GDP growth of 15 percent -- thanks to oil production, agricultural sector growth was 0.8 percent, the Council observed.

In the last five years, Government has implemented a number of important interventions in the agricultural sector. Among which are the buffer stock management, fertiliser subsidy, livestock and fisheries development, irrigation and mechanised systems and the Youth in Agriculture programme.

“In spite of these interventions, the fortunes of the agriculture sector remain poor.” Providing statistics to this effect, the TUC notes that in 2010 the crops sub-sector grew by five percent; but in 2011 it declined to 3.7 percent compared to GDP overall growth of 15 percent, and further declined to one percent in 2012.

“For the cocoa sub-sector, the Council of the labour body notes that growth declined from 26.6 percent in 2010 to -6.9 percent in 2012. Similarly, the fisheries sector grew 1.5 percent in 2010, declined by 8.7 percent in 2011, and grew by 4.7 percent in 2012.”

TUC says the growth in the sector does not reflect the recent investments, due largely to low productivity in the sector.
This is evidenced by the fact that the sector currently has the least share in the GDP even as it employs the largest proportion of the total workforce.

The Union said that the country is therefore not getting value for money as far as the interventions are concerned, sending a clear message that the interventions are either inappropriate or not reaching the intended beneficiaries. Consequently, the TUC believes the approaches should be reviewed.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said beyond the aggregate improvements in the economy as measured by GDP growth and the relative stability in the inflation rate, there is no real gain in terms of employment-creation and the living conditions of majority of Ghanaians.

It has also raised concern about the rising rate of land acquisitions by foreign nationals and Governments for large-scale commercial farming in the country.

Dubbed ‘land-grab’, the TUC notes with sadness this new development in Africa where land is acquired primarily to produce food crops for export to the ‘investors’ home countries. This practice, it notes, seriously affects the smallholder farmer who in the past produced food for domestic consumption since the practice undermines local ability to leverage fertile lands for food production for both domestic and export markets.

The TUC Council consequently urged Government to intervene since this feeds into the perception that foreigners are taking over the country.