Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Should The Whole Of Ghana's Agricultural Sector Not Be Made Tax-Free In An Era Of Global Climate Change?

Ghana has an agricultural minister who clearly enjoys the confidence of President Akufo-Addo - and is said to have a close personal relationship with  him too. That ought to be beneficial for  farmers nationwide.

An added bonus is that the new minister for agriculture, Dr. Owusu  Afriyie Akoto,  is also a highly intelligent and well-educated politician. That will enable him have a quick grasp of all agricultural sector issues that crop up from time to time - and require government's urgent attention for resolution.

We must all thank Providence for the fact that Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has the president's ear  - as such  is the importance of the role the agricultural sector plays in the national economy that it is vital that it is made a priority area of our national life by every administration that comes to power in Ghana.

Ensuring food security and providing livelihoods for young people across rural Ghana are both key national security concerns that are addressed by the agricultural sector -  in the important and vital  task all governments have of  ensuring the independence and stability of our nation.

As it happens, one farms cocoa oneself - without any synthetic chemical inputs - and one also comes from a farming family that has farmed in parts of the Eastern Region since 1915.

(Incidentally, for some extraordinary reason  over the years many of us in the family have always been keen environmental activists too - long before it became fashionable globally - right from the days when the British illegally occupied our country. But I digress.)

It ought to be obvious to any serious Ghanaian conversant with rural Ghana who visits the countryside frequently, and is also observant, that policymakers seldom factor in the manifold  negative impacts on agricultural production that global climate change now has on Ghana's agricultural sector, when designing new policies for the agric sector. That is most unfortunate.

The fact of the matter, is that in the long-term, so dire is the situation the sector faces that  if we are to secure the future of Ghanaian agriculture, and ensure food security for our nation and all its people, bold and imaginative steps must be taken now by those who currently govern our country.

Indeed, any delay in so doing, will amount to putting the long-term future of the entire agricultural sector  at grave risk. 

Based on my own personal experience,  I believe that the only way to make Ghanaian agriculture thrive, and prosper, is to remove all agricultural subsidies and make the whole sector - not just cocoa farming - tax-free: and extend that incentive  to businesses in the entire value-chain ecosystem that supports and underpins the sector.

For example, if all of the agricultural sector were to be  made tax-free, dynamic Africa-focused companies like Uganda's Madhvani Group (of Kakira Sugar Works Limited fame)  - one of the most efficient sugar producers in Africa -  could be attracted here to embark on a win-win joint-venture public private partnership (PPP) with Ghana to revive our local sugar industry.

That will definitely secure the future of the Komenda sugar factory - and eventually lead to the revival of the industry in Asutuare too without a shadow of doubt. The Madhvanis are geniuses at sugar production -  it being the core business  that made them one of East Africa's wealthiest Asian families.

Who knows, if they are invited here by the present administration, perhaps the Madhvanis might be minded to replicate their well-managed and ethically-run Ugandan conglomerate's  cross-sectorial  business model here - and  partner District Assemblies and suitable private-sector entities in Ghana's private-sector to set up industries in all the districts of Ghana. Cool.

And that is an example of the potential impact that just one significant Africa-focused conglomerate could have on our nation's real economy, if it is drawn here by attractive investment incentive initiatives such as making the entire agricultral sector  tax-free  - creating wealth and employment for countless younger generation Ghanaians in the process.

The question is: Will President Akufo-Addo and his  very able agriculture minister (and soulmate from his childhood days apparently),  Hon Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, have the nous and gumption to make the entirety of Ghana's agriculture sector tax-free - and both be able to see in their minds' eye  the amazing entrepreneurial energy such a policy would unleash: and help secure the sector's future in an era of global climate change? One hopes so. For all our sake.

Hmm, Oman Ghana - eyeasem o: asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa.


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