The Minority has called for an independent assessment and full publication of the names of those employed under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
His comments follow the Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Afriyie Akoto’s announcement last week that 745,000 jobs had been created under the first phase of the programme, with the caveat that the jobs were “unofficial jobs.”
The Minister explained to the media that, the jobs were created in rural areas, and were essentially not taxable, and did not contribute to pension funds following the earlier scepticism that met the announced figure. The figures were based on the number of additional inputs as well as improved seeds and fertilizers supplied to participating farmers in 2017.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament, Mr. Iddrisu, however, emphasized the need for an independent investigation into the Minister’s assertion.
“All agricultural experts in this world and in the country must interrogate the figures of 745,000 persons employed under Planting for Food because even in the Committee Chairman’s own constituency, the numbers are not what we are reporting and therefore every day we wake up that 745,000 jobs [have been] created.
“Someone, independent, if you have the list, please publish it for us and let us know because it is important. If you distrust government, distrust the Minority, let us have an independent assessment.”
Government’s assertion on the number of jobs being created through the programme has been disputed by many including former government officials who have called on Ghanaians to disregard such claims.
The National Democratic Congress [NDC] Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Inusah Fuseini had earlier indicated that the Minister had claimed the plaudits for jobs that did not exist.
“As I have said, I have not seen any strategic blueprint for the planting for food and jobs, they went and assisted farmers who are already in the field, they didn’t create new farmers, all they did was extend facility to them, is that creation of new jobs?, ”he said.
Beyond Inusah Fuseini’s concerns, the General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU), also pointed out that government’s estimate of 745,000 jobs provided under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme might be exaggerated.
The Union’s General Secretary, Edward Kareweh, contended that the figure provided by the government would have to be scrutinized.
Lack of understanding
Despite the contentions with the figures from government, a Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Sagre Bambangi has said those doubting the number of jobs created by the programme needed to acquaint themselves with the situation on the ground.
According to him, the sceptics “have not been able to take time to appreciate the process involved in agricultural production.”
“In the course of agricultural production, we have input delivery, and in the course of the input delivery, a lot of stakeholders are involved and all these create jobs. For instance, if you are going to procure seeds and fertilizer, you are creating jobs for people who will haul the seeds and fertilizer. If you are going to haul the seeds and fertilizer, you are creating jobs for transport owners and hauliers,” he explained.
The ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme, which was launched in 2017, is expected to modernize agriculture, improve production, achieve food security and make Ghana more self-sufficient, whilst creating jobs for the youth.
The initiative is expected to increase the production of maize by 30%, rice by 49%, soybean by 25% and sorghum by 28% for current production levels.
It was estimated that the first phase of the policy would cost the government about GHc 560 million.