In Ghana, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services is one of such institutions that play a key role in certification of exports of agricultural commodities into the multilateral trading systems. This public institution since 1997 has drafted a Bill to change Act 307 that established it in 1965. This draft Bill has been lingering between the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the Attorney-General's Department and the Cabinet. And for seven years the Bill has not yet been laid in Parliament.
Meanwhile, at the international level, the International Plan Protection Convention (IPPC) which is the sister organisation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) responsible for sanitary and phytosanitary measures under which the IPPC falls has given a deadline of October 2005 for member countries to adopt this new legal framework.
Mr. Speaker, the strategy that His Excellency the President has adopted in agriculture is on diversification of exports that is, removing reliance from cocoa to the non-traditional export crops. We stand to lose compliance if nothing is done to ensure that the public institutions responsible for certifying these non-traditional agricultural export crops is in compliance with the international regulations.
I am saying these things just to point out the weakness in the Bill drafting process. And I think that this is an area that His Excellency the President ought to have also touched on in the State of the Nation Address. To improve the Bill drafting process, some of these institutions like the IPPC have legal departments in their set-up and they can offer legal advice to lawyers in this country.
I would like to move on straight to my
which is the Anlo constituency, we have many fishermen who fish both in the sea and the lagoon. Large fishing vessels that fish very close to the continental shelf seriously affect their livelihood. There was a project in 1998, which was supposed to monitor the movement of large fishing vessels on the coast of Ghana.
My research shows that this project was moved to the security agencies. Since 1998, this project has not taken off. It is my belief that the State of the Nation Address needs to focus on this because if we have an effective monitoring of large fishing vessels which will not destroy fishing stocks on the continental shelf, and which will not destroy the fishing nets of our local farmers, then we can ensure the livelihood of these fishing communities and therefore reduce their poverty.
The project was supposed to monitor fishing vessels within 50 metres' depth of the continental shelf. This translates to about 10 to 100 nautical miles of the coast. I urge His Excellency the President to look seriously at this because it has something to do with reduction of poverty, particularly for fishermen along the coast of which my constituency, Anlo, is part.
I would like also to move straight to the President's Special Initiative (PSI) on sugarcane. I did hear His Excellency the President say he was considering a PSI on sugarcane. This was subject to considerable debate. Some hon. Members said it was a slip of tongue and others said it was not included in the text. Mr. Speaker, I believe it came from the heart of His Excellency the President. My constituency has a potential for sugarcane production, and I believe that this will go a long way to improve the livelihoods of my people. And if this came from the President's heart, then I urge his
the floor of the House and various areas have been covered. I also believe that I have new perspectives which I could add to the State of the Nation Address.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to go straight to agriculture. In the State of the Nation Address, agriculture was not given prominent status. We all agree that agriculture forms the backbone of the economy of this country. And one would have expected that it would be treated under a separate topic under which we would have had a clear vision of His Excellency for developing agriculture within the next four years, a clear vision which will spell out his response to both domestic and international issues; and it is on this area that I wish to make a few comments.
The first is improving the legislative and regulatory framework of public institutions responsible for certification of exports and imports of agricultural products.
Mr. Speaker, whilst the text dwelt largely on domestic issues, there is an area of agriculture which also deals with compliance with the regulatory framework of international institutions. And this area was prominently missing from the State of the Nation Address.
Mr. Speaker, exports of agricultural commodities require compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). And since Ghana is a member of the WTO, this requires that our public institutions must be restructured and must have the appropriate legal framework to meet compliance of international institutions. Just to give you a little background, after the formation of the WTO in 1995 from General Agreement on Trade & Tariffs (GATT), the legal framework of some of these institutions
next point, which is support to agricultural research. There is an area which I think His Excellency the President ought to have touched; and that is support to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. It is the safe use of radiation to promote quality standards for agricultural products.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at the statistics, exporters in Ghana suffer a lot of losses as a result of spoilage of produce through shipping and transportation to the multi- lateral trading system. And in Ghana we have the capacity to overcome most of these problems. The Biotechnology and Radiation Processing Department of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission has been conducting studies on the safe use of radiation to promote quality standards for agricultural products. I wish to draw the attention of His Excellency the President therefore, to this potential that we have, that ought to reflect in his vision for the next four years.
Mr. Speaker, radiated products are already in the Ghanaian market; they are in the supermarkets, some are spices, herbs from South Africa with special labels. It is in response to this that the Ghana Standards Board has already instituted an international standard called GS 210 of 1997 to control the domestic production of radiated foods and also the import of radiated foods. I therefore believe that this area of agriculture needs to be reflected in the programmes of His Excellency the President for this term.
My third point is on fishing vessels surveillance for protection of small canoe fishermen. Mr. Speaker, the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy points out very clearly, a link between poverty and fishing communities. It states that poverty is predominant among crop farmers and also fishing communities. In my constituency,