Debates of 30 May 2006

PRAYERS 10 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Friday, 26th May 2006 - Pages 1…8. [No correction was made.]
Hon. Members, we have the Official Report for Wednesday, 24th May 2006. If there are any observations, you may wish to make them now or later.
Item 3 - Urgent Question. Is the hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture in the House?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Hon. Joseph Yaani Labik, hon. Member for Bunkpurugu - [Interruption.] Hon. Majority Leader?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, my information is that, it looks like he is with the Appointments Committee. I wish he had been around to ask the Question before going to the Appointments Committee sitting. Unless somebody else was authorized to do that - [Inter-ruption.]
Mr. Kofi Krah Mensah 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to ask the Question on behalf
of hon. Joseph Yaani Labik.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Hon. Member, has he given you the permission to ask the Question on his behalf? [Laughter.]
Mr. K. K. Mensah 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he has not.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Item 4 - Question 456, hon. Stephen Amoanor Kwao, Member of Parliament for Upper Manya.



Minister for Food and Agriculture (Mr. Ernest A. Debrah) 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to remind the hon. Member that a Ministry of Fisheries has been created; and as such, my response will only relate to farming inputs. He may wish to refer the part on fishing to the hon. Minister for Fisheries.
Mr. Speaker, the importation and distribution of agricultural inputs were fully privatized in the mid-1990s. However, my Ministry continue to hold regular meetings with private importers to learn, at first hand, the problems they face and how my Ministry could work with them to arrive at fair prices for both the importers and the farmers. This is aimed at making the input prices relatively attractive.
Additionally, to make agric input prices attractive, the Ministry continues to grant
waivers of duties and taxes to importers.
Mr. Speaker, my Ministry has also worked to achieve the following 10 a.m.
Worked with the hon. Minister for Ports and Harbours and the Management of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority to drastically reduce delays at the ports that have implications on final agricultural input prices.
Lessened the long internal approval procedures for exemption letters.
Mr. Kwao 10:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, in the face of escalating prices of agricultural inputs throughout the country does the hon. Minister consider privatisation as the best way to stop the problem of high prices of agricultural inputs?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is talking about escalating prices of agricultural inputs. Probably, a time- frame would have helped to support this assertion. I think agricultural inputs have not escalated so high as compared to some years back. Privatization is in place but the Government has put in measures to ensure that prices are not hiked up unnecessarily; and it is to this effect that taxes and duties on agricultural inputs have been waived.
So if you consider the price of a tractor, it has been the same for the past three years. If you look at fertilizers, the prices have not escalated as the hon. Member is saying. This is because we put in measures to ensure that prices do not go up. I said that part of the measures are that if you consider some farm inputs, the demurrage charges that were put on these items made the prices go up. We have had
a meeting with the GPHA. and they have now reduced the time for clearing these items so they seldom attract the demurrage charges. This has brought the cost of the items down. We have also looked at our internal processes for granting exemptions for taxes and duties and we have shortened the time so that the demurrage charges do not occur.
So the hon. Minister has begun to put
in place a lot of measures to ensure that the prices do not escalate.
Mr. Kwao 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the hon. Minister says prices have not escalated. In the year 2000, the price of a cutlass was about ¢17,000. Now it is ¢35,000. How can the poor farmer afford this? We are talking of the poor farmer in the village, not in Accra. In that vein, is the hon. Minister aware that these prices increase as prices of petroleum products increase? And is he considering fixing the prices of all agricultural inputs throughout the country to be the same as is done in the case of prices of petroleum products?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, could he repeat the question; I did not get the final part properly.
Mr. Kwao 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am asking if it is possible for his Ministry to stabilise prices of agricultural inputs throughout the country as is done to prices of petroleum products?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think you cannot take prices of agricultural inputs in isolation; cutlasses are produced in Ghana; workers work at the factory. If at the beginning of the year there are salary increases, obviously these prices would go up a little bit in relation to other things. So you cannot take agricultural inputs separately from the general trend of the economy.
So obviously, you do not expect the price of cutlass to be stable for a number of years. As the economy changes, prices are also likely to change in the economy. That is how it works. If you decide to fix the prices of inputs the way you fix the prices of petroleum products, well, that may be something else. We would look at that, but I do not think that would actually solve the problem.
Mr. Kwao 10:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, would the hon. Minister consider enabling hon. Members to acquire tractors for their constituencies to ease the perennial problems farmers face every year during the ploughing seasons?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, well, it depends upon one's constituency. If one's constituency is in the forest area, he or she may not require a tractor for ploughing. I wish to assure hon. Members that of the last batch of tractors that were imported and were distributed, all districts that needed tractors were first of all allocated with three tractors each.
Secondly, the others that were distributed to those who required them were based on the advice of the district directors of agriculture in the various districts. I doubt whether we would be able to share tractors to hon. Members for their constituencies because the constituencies are first catered for through the districts and then through the district directors of agriculture. Based on that, all constituencies should be served with regard to what we have at every particular moment in time.
M. C. K. Humado: Mr. Speaker, I
would like to know from the hon. Minister whether the system that was put in place somewhere around 1999 after the removal of subsidies -- the system of gross
Mr Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, currently, that is not how it is operating but as the hon. Member has suggested, we would have a look at that.
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Answers given by the hon. Minister have made me so confused. Mr. Speaker, the Minister said that agricultural inputs were fully privatised in the mid-1990s. He went further to say that the Ministry, however, continues to grant waivers of duties and taxes to importers. If importation of tractors or, for this matter, importation has been privatised, what is the criterion used in selecting those on whose importation taxes are waived? I want to know from the Minister.
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. Member did not get me well. I said that duties and taxes on all agricultural inputs imported into the country -- It does not depend upon who is importing. If it is an agricultural input, then duties and taxes are waived.
Alhaji S. Abukari 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, one would recall that during the Acheam-pong regime, and subsequently, agri-cultural inputs were subsidised and as a result Ghana became a net exporter of food. To bring down prices of farm products and agricultural products, will the hon. Minister consider reintroducing subsidies for fertilizers for seeds, tractors, et cetera, so that we can have enough to eat and make some little money on it as we did before?
Mr. Speaker, even the United States of America does this. So the Word Bank has no business telling us not to do it. Will the
Minister consider reintroducing subsidies?
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the question of subsidies is quite debatable. Granting of subsidies may or may not lead to high productivity. When people in this country talk about subsidies, they sometimes mean financial subsidies but I can assure the hon. Minister that a lot of support is given to agriculture not by way of subsidy but by other things that constitute subsidies in this country.
We distribute tractors to farmers on very generous terms. You pay a deposit; you pay the remainder in three years without any interest being charged. We produce vaccines and sell the vaccines below cost. We put money into research for them to develop high yielding seeds, planting materials and supply them to the farmers. These are some of the things that we do -- that the Government does not charge for them. So in actual fact, even though subsidies are abolished, there are lots of supports that are being given to farmers.

If you talk about reducing prices of main agricultural inputs like fertilizer, tractors and others, my question is, whenever you give subsidy on any product, somebody must pay for it. So it either means putting in more taxes hoping to pay for it -- because the thing does not come in free and we need to have a look at all these things. But looking at it, I think even without the subsidies, the Government is doing a lot to farmers to cut down on cost. Thank you.
Mr. Lee Ocran 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the price of seedlings, especially disease-resistant coconut seedlings is escalating and farmers have to replant their diseased
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think he has made a suggestion of subsidizing coconut seedlings through Poverty Alleviation Funds or HIPC Funds. We will look at that since it is funds; that are gone to the Assemblies or that are going to go to the Assemblies; nobody really directly pays for it. We shall have a look at that and then stretch it not only to coconut but also to others and see how it works out. Thank you for the suggestion.
Mr. Salia 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, transportation is a major contributor to the high cost of agricultural inputs throughout the country, particularly fertilizer prices. What plans does the Minister have to equalize transportation cost so that we will have uniform agricultural input prices throughout the country? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is not only agricultural inputs that are affected by transportation cost. All other things that travel up and down the country suffer transportation cost. So if we want to have a look at how transport affects these things, then probably, let us look at the economy generally and let us see how we can do that. Cement goes the same way; a lot of things go the same way so probably we might look at a national policy to see how we can equalize prices by spreading it on all other items. So that is a very valid point, we shall have a look at that. Thank you.
Mr. Mahama Ayariga 10:20 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I think the Member for Upper Manya asked a follow-up question, which I believe the Minister, did not get. The question is, if we privatize the importation of agricultural inputs, the
problem is that the price of a cutlass in Accra will be cheaper than the price of a cutlass in Bawku Central because of the additional cost involved in transporting it there. The price of fertilizer will be the same; it will be cheaper here and then it will be very expensive in Bawku Central.
So the question is, what is the Ministry doing to ensure that it evens up the pricing of these farm inputs so that farming in one part of the country does not become too expensive and impossible while farming in other parts is okay, just like the way we do it for petrol prices?
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
I think I got you right the first time. But what I said was that it does not happen to only farm inputs; it happens to certain things like cement and cloth so whatever needs to be transported from one part of the country to the other suffers the same thing. So I said that his point is valid but we must clearly have a look at it nationwide to see whether we cannot use this equalization factor to equalize prices both in the north and south and other parts of the country.
I acknowledge that but I am saying that it should then affect other things as well and let us look at it nationally and see whether there can be something that can equalize prices throughout the country.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Question No. 457. Honourable Issifu Pangabu Mohammed, Member of Parliament for (Ejura/ Sekyedumase).
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Yes, you may ask your
Alhaji Mubarak 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, my hon. Colleague is at the constituency attending to a constituency issue.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Where is he?
Alhaji Mubarak 10:20 a.m.
He is at the constituency and has asked me to ask this Question of his behalf.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
If he has asked you, then I grant you permission.
Ejura Farms (The Ministry's Position)
Q. 457. Alhaji M. M. Mubarak (on behalf of Alhaji Issifu P. Mohammed) asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture the Ministry's position on Ejura Farms and why stored maize running into thousands of tonnes were burnt.
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, Ejura Farms has been on the divestiture list for some time now. Once it is on divestiture, the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) takes responsibility for the place. However, in order that the facility does not sit idle, while waiting for an interested investor, the support of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) was sought to continue with normal operations of the farm. So even though it is on the divestiture, its farming activities are going on to ensure that the workers do not sit idle.
On the issue of maize burning, Mr. Speaker, Ejura Farms in 2001, competed and won a contract to purchse and manage part of Government's maize stocks. The maize was purchased and stored in bulk in a silo located on the farm. Some of the maize was authorised for sale.
Unfortunately, in 2003, a natural disaster occurred on the farm. There was a heavy overnight downpour and water diverted its course from the fields into the silo area and flooded the entire premises. It took the Ghana Fire Service about five days to pump the water out of the silo and the cleaning equipment.
After draining the water, Mr. Speaker, it was realized that the maize had changed colour. Samples of the maize were sent to the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services (PPRS) laboratories, as well as the Food Research Institute (FRI). Results from both laboratories indicated extremely high levels of carcinogenic aflatoxins. The maize was therefore declared unwholesome for both human and animal consumption and had to be disposed of.
In order to ensure that the contaminated maize did not find its way back into the market, the most appropriate option of disposal was to burn the stock. This is how come the maize was burnt. Thank you.
Alhaji Mubarak 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister about how much was spent in this exercise. About how much money was spent in clearing the silo and burning the maize?
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
How much money was spent on clearing the silo and burning the maize is not available now but I can make it available to him later. I will find out and then let him know.
Alhaji Mubarak 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, may I ask the Minister why the farm is on divestiture. Since he said the farm was doing well, may I know why the farm is on divestiture?
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think I will have to go and research on this because it was done by the previous Government. I want to go and find out how it was put on divestiture.
Mr. S. Charles S. Hodogbey 10:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. From the Answers, the Hon. Minister said that in 2001, the contract was given to somebody to sell
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable Member is going into some figures -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Minister, let me call you first.
Minister for Food and Agriculture --
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is going into figures and I do not have them in my mind as I stand here. To want the tonnage for 2001, how much was sold, how much was remaining when the flood occurred, I will get the figures for him later; I do not have the figures in my mind right now.
Mr. C. K. Humado 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
since Ejura Farms is one of the most important farms for food security and it is now on the divestiture list, what stocks do the Ministry have to respond to in emergency disasters such as famine if it should occur in the country? What system is in place by the Ministry to respond to food shortages if they occur in this country?
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, Ejura
Farms is very important in the agricultural set-up of this country. However, Ejura Farms covers only about 13,000 acres; that is about 6,500 hectares out of which only about 3,000 acres have been developed. So Ejura Farm's output of maize to the total output in the country is very, very minimal. So the fact that it is under divestiture will not really affect maize supply in this country.
However, on his second question,
there is a need to establish a national food security stock in this country. We are working on it; Cabinet has in principle approved the formation of a national food security stock and my Ministry is working out the modalities of establishing a national food security stock.
Mr. S. M. E. K. Ackah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
the Minister's Answer indicates that in order that the facility will not go idle, ADB was giving some support for its operations. May I know whether after the destruction of this maize which is a big loss of money to the State, ADB is still supporting Ejura Farms?
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the answer
is, yes. ADB is still working on the land and they are still farming on Ejura Farms land.
Farmers of the Vea and Tono Irrigation Projects (Assistance)
Q. 458. Mr. Albert Abongo asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture what forms of assistance were there for farmers of the Vea and Tono Irrigation Projects and how they can be accessed.
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Tono and Vea Irrigation Projects are two of the present twenty-two (22) public irrigation projects in the country. Due to long use and lack of maintenance, the infrastructures at the two project sites deteriorated and water delivery systems were affected.
Through funds provided by CIDA in 2004, portions of the deteriorated infrastructures were rehabilitated. Irrigation experts from my Ministry are working on a proposal to completely rehabilitate the two structures, including the canal valves and gates to improve water conveyance systems and bring more area under production to benefit farmers.
Mr. Abongo 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the Minister the quantum of credit given to these farmers that stand unpaid.
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish
the hon. Member had given me an earlier notification. When it comes to the question of figures, one cannot put all of them in his mind so I can get him the figures any time after today when he wants them. I do not have them in my mind right now.
Mr. Abongo 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, one other problem that the farmers are confronted with under these two projects is that the timing of credit is not always the best. What is the Ministry doing to improve upon the situation? Sometimes, they get these credits when they are almost close to harvesting. What can they do to improve upon the situation?
Mr. Debrah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will look
at that. It has not come to the notice of my Ministry that credit to farmers is delayed. These projects are handled by project units in the place so Vea Irrigation Project has got its own management team. They arrange for facilities and give to the farmers -- Tono, the same. It has not come to my Ministry's notice that credit
delivery is sometimes delayed. Probably, there are some bureaucracies between the management and the banks but once he has brought it to my notice, I will find out and see how best the problem can be solved.
Mr. E. K. Salia 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, is the
hon. Minister aware of the problem of nematode infestation which afflicts the ability of the farmers in their cropping of tomatoes in the two projects? And if he is, what is being done to alleviate the problem?
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
nematode problem does exist at Tono and one knows how the nematode problem arises. If one continues cropping on a piece of land for tomatoes for quite a long time, one gets nematode infestation. But we have tried as much as possible to get the farmers to go according to the planting plans of the project.
Unfortunately sometimes because they look at the economic side of the whole programme, when they realize that they get more from tomato than they get say, from pepper or, say from okro, they decide to go cropping tomatoes on one particular land for some time. That is how come the nematode problem arose. Now we have asked the project managers to ensure that the farmers comply with the planting plans of the project so that we can get rid of nematodes. If you plant tomatoes for a period and you change the crop and go to another crop the nematode automatically dies off. So we have asked them to now be strict on the farmers so that they can go according to the planning programme of the project.

Pomadze Poultry Industry

Q. 459. Mr. Richmond Sam Quarm
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
M r. S p e a k e r , t h e Pomadze Poultry Industry has long been listed for divestiture. And as I said earlier, once it is so listed, the company falls under the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), which itself falls under the ministerial responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP).
I know however that the Breeding Farm at Winneba has been divested to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission International, while the Hatchery and Feedmills at Winneba have been offered to Ashpack Expectations Limited.
I believe further details can be obtained from the Ministry that has got responsibility for the Divestiture Implementation Committee.
Mr. Quarm 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon.
Minister's response dwelt so much on whether it will be rehabilitated. The emphasis of my Question is on “when”. It is on “when”, yet he did not touch on that. If he can touch on that --
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
You may ask your
supplementary question, please.
Mr. Quarm 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am asking
the hon. Minister when the rehabilitation or restoration of Pomadze Poultry Industry will begin.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon. Member, I thought
the hon. Minister has already dealt with that. In any case, if you want him to repeat, I will call on the hon. Minister. Hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture, you may wish to further expatiate.
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I said it
has been listed for divestiture and once it has been listed for divestiture, it does not come under my Ministry. It falls under the
Divestiture Implementation Committee. So they will be able to tell him what they intend to do with Pomadze Poultry Farms.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
H o n . M e m b e r
for Gomoa East, do you have further questions?
Mr. Quarm 10:40 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr.
Speaker, may I please know from the hon. Minister what then happens to the Pomadze Poultry Industry if Ashpack Expectations Limited declines the offer from the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC)?
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon . Member fo r Gomoa East, maybe I should advise you to direct the question to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
Mr. Edward Salia 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in an Answer to this Question and actually to the previous Question, the hon. Minister did state that the responsibility for companies on the divestiture list is with the Divestiture Implementation Committee. I would like to know from the hon. Minister what responsibility at all does his Ministry have over the corporations or companies under his Ministry that are on the divestiture list?
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I said that Pomadze Poultry Industry has been listed for divestiture and therefore it is under the Divestiture Implementation Committee which at that time was under the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. When a company is divested, it goes to the Divestiture Implementation Committee. And when they want to divest it, they would have it valued and they look at the value and then they divest it and the money is paid to the State. That is how the divestiture goes. So the Ministry of Food and Agriculture -- yes.
Okyereko Rice Irrigation Project
Q. 460. Mr. Richmond Sam Quarm

asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture when the Okyereko Rice Irrigation project would be revitalized.
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Okyereko Irrigation Project was constructed by the Government around 1973/74. The total area developed initially was 81 hectares. Due to long use and lack of maintenance, the infrastructure at the project site has deteriorated and the area under crop farming has drastically reduced.
In the year 2000, Government through JICA, rehabilitated the infrastructure at the site to irrigate 45 hectares of land for the production of rice. The rest of the area (36 ha.) will be rehabilitated in the next phase of the JICA support. In the meantime, however, a further 40 hectares, outside the initial 81 hectares, have been developed by JICA for vegetable cultivation upland.
Mr. Quarm 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister, in his response cited 1973-74 as the period of construction. Presumably it would have been a wholly government project. As he speaks now, with JICA intervention or assistance, is it wholly government, private or public/private participation?
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it becomes
a public good. All irrigation projects financed by Government or supported by donor partners are for the Government.
Mr. Quarm 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, will the
hon. Minister consider the construction of small dams upstream on River Ayensu which irrigates Okyereko, at such points like Panfokrom, Ayensuadze and Nsuaem? Will his Ministry consider the construction of small dams upstream to enable farmers do some all-year round crop farming?
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon . Member fo r
Gomoa East, is it a supplementary
Mr. Quarm 10:40 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon. Minister for Food
and Agriculture, if you have the answer, you may give it.
Mr. Debrah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the focus
of agriculture right now is modernization and by modernization we are talking about irrigation, mechanization, research and development for good planting materials and good breeds and then adding value. So it is within the policy of this Government to develop small scale irrigation systems for farmers throughout the country. It is beginning this year so when we start moving at the right time, the places that he has mentioned will be served with the small systems.
Mr. J. K. Hackman 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister why River Ochi in the Gomoa West which passes through most farming villages has not featured in any of the Ministry's plans for irrigation.
Mr. Debrah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not
think the hon. Member has seen the Ministry's plan for irrigation for the next two years. Probably, if he had seen it, he would have noticed that a lot of small rivers were all going to have weirs built across them so that we can provide irrigation facilities to farmers.
So please, it is not that it does not feature; it features but we have not yet come to it. We are going gradually; we are going according to how much money we have. So at the right time he will have his share of the small irrigation system.
Mr. B. D. K. Adu 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the
Mr. Debrah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we all
know that Ghana has got a very poor maintenance culture and most of the dams that were built in the past have all suffered deterioration due to lack of maintenance. So we have started rehabilitating the dams, beginning from the nine that we selected last year, which is nearing completion. This year, the rehabilitation is still going on and I hope from now onwards, we shall take maintenance seriously so that we can have the full benefits of not only irrigation systems but other facilities that are put in place in this country.
Mr. Alfred K. Agbesi 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
we know that irrigation is so important to the agricultural sector of this country. The hon. Minister has said that for the Tono and Vea irrigation projects, due to lack of maintenance the facilities over there have deteriorated. He also said that for the Okyereko Irrigation Project the facility has deteriorated due to lack of maintenance, and he has mentioned that these are some of the irrigation projects in the country out of the twenty-two. May I know from the hon. Minister what is happening to the other irrigation projects throughout the country?
Mr. Debrah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we
have twenty-two irrigation facilities in this country, almost of all them have deteriorated. We have started rehabilitating them. As I said, at the latter part of last year, we picked nine of the twenty-two and we are rehabilitating them at the cost of about ¢57 billion. So it is a gradual process that is going on. We are rehabilitating the old ones and we are
bringing in smaller irrigation facilities whose maintenance would be very easy for farmers to do.
So that is what we are doing; we are taking them gradually and we are rehabilitating them. We picked nine; they are on course and as soon as we finish, we shall take another set until all the twenty- two are rehabilitated.
Mr. Agbesi 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are aware
that there is one very important project in the country, and that is the Aveyime Irrigation Project. The hon. Minister has said that with regard to some of these projects due to lack of maintenance the facilities have broken down. I would like to know from the hon. Minister, in view of what he has said, whether there is any serious attention being paid to the equipment at the Aveyime Irrigation Project.
Mr. Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon. Member for Ashaiman, you may wish to come properly.
Nsuaem Tomato Factory (Rehabilitation and Operation)
Q. 461 Mr. Richmond Sam Quarm asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture when the Nsuaem Tomato Factory would be rehabilitated and made operational.
Mr. Debrah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Nsuaem Tomato Processing Factory was first established in 1965 to help process vegetables that are grown in the area, including tomatoes, garden eggs, chillies and other Asian vegetables.
Unfortunately, the factory was abandoned after the 1966 coup. At the time, two bungalows with boys' quarters and a workshop and stores had been completed. But the building of the factory itself and a proposed dam had not started.
Mr. Quarm 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister if he has sighted the original feasibility document on the project itself before coming out with this response -- [Interruption] -- If he has sighted the feasibility report or the original feasibility document on the Nsuaem Tomato Factory before it was even abandoned in 1966. Has he sighted it in his Ministry?
Mr. Debrah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we have
not sighted the feasibility report. After the coup the reports and the drawings on them got lost so we have not sighted them. But as I said, even if the documents were sighted, it is a long time since these feasibility studies were made for that project, so if we are to restart it, we have to do feasibility studies again. So the answer is that we have not sighted it; and if we have to go back to the project, we have to do new feasibility studies.
Mr. Quarm 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, by the
hon. Minister's response that with the coming on board of MCA he hopes it would be revitalized, am I to take it that he is going to champion that collaboration that is between himself and MCA, or it is a question of shirking responsibilities to MCA.
Mr. Debrah 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, when
the MCA becomes operational the local people and the district will have a major role to play in its implementation. So if the local people and the district want the irrigation facility to be put in place, especially for the tomatoes, they must demand it and then the MCA will take
account of it and handle it. So whether it will be done or not will depend on the people in the area.
Mr. Quarm 10:50 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the major
occupation of the people of Gomoa East is farming. Would the hon. Minister agree with me that the collapse of the three major industries, that is the Pomadze Poultry Industry, Okyereko Irrigation Project and Nsuaem Tomato Factory, has led to a high unemployment rate and therefore the high incidence of poverty in Gomoa East. Would the hon. Minister agree with me that his Ministry, not he personally, has been a great contributor to this fact?
Mr. Debrah 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, first of all I would want to make a correction; the Okyereko Dam has not collapsed. Initially it was 78 hectares; now by the JICA programme, 40 hectares were reha-bilitated and then another 40 were developed for vegetable cultivation. If we add the two together then at Okyereko right now we have got 80 hectares as against the initial 78 hectares. So in fact, Okyereko should be taken out of this equation.
The second point is that dams are not the only thing that we use for farming so I cannot agree that because the dams have collapsed it is causing umemployment in the area. There are a lot of total farming areas in Ghana but only 8,800 hectares are under irrigation; all the rest are under rain-fed agriculture.
So the collapse of the two dams, I would disagree, is not the reason why
Mr. Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon. Minister, thank
you very much for appearing to answer these Questions. You are discharged.

Mr. Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo (NDC -- Wa Central) 11 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to support the Statement made by my hon. Colleague on the need to support the production of local rice in this country. Mr. Speaker, it is so critical that it has to be understood as one of the very important steps any national economy and any Ministry of Agriculture would take to ensure that we are truly economically independent.
Mr. Speaker, the situation in which we are supposed to be importing rice to the tune of $100 million is very sad and must
Mr. B.D.K. Adu (NPP -- Okere) 11 a.m.
Speaker, I rise to support the Statement on the floor.
One finds it so difficult to understand why as a nation what we produce we do not make use of. Rice importation takes millions of dollars and we need this money; we can use this money internally and buy what we produce. It is difficult to understand. I pray the Ministry of Food and Agriculture would take the bull by the horns and take a decision -- It should not even be the Minister for Food and Agriculture; the Government should take a decision on this.
The World Trade Organisation is just hemming us in, in the sense that what we produce they do not want us to make use of it, and then we spend money to buy rice from outside our jurisdiction or our country.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member who made the Statement has said it all. What are we waiting for as a nation? This local rice is so nice. Even I would say it is nicer and more nutritious than the imported rice, and if we do not take action the nation is going to be the loser for it.
So Mr. Speaker, just as the Statement goes, all of us as hon. Members of Parliament should add our voice to this. And we can say it and drum it but if the Government does not stand firm on it we would be wasting our time.
Mr. Speaker, I plead with the Government to take action on this.
Alhaji Seidu Amadu (NDC 11:10 a.m.

Kusawgu): Mr. Speaker, I share the sentiments expressed by the maker of the Statement.

Mr. Speaker, the fight against poverty in this country can never be won if we do
Mr. Lee Ocran (NDC -- Jomoro) 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, during the Second World War, the West African Volunteer Force was fed with rice from the Nzema East District. The first rice mill was established at Felanza near Esiama. How come that today we have to import rice from far away Vietnam whose land was almost rendered unproductive by the use of defoliants by the Americans during the Vietnam War? It is very pathetic; we must encourage our farmers to produce. But if they produce and the produce is not purchased, of course, nobody would stay in the rural areas to farm.
I wish to urge state institutions like the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports
and the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Prison Service to feed the prison inmates on rice produced in Ghana. This will help the farmers to have some guaranteed market. I know the system has been tried before, it did not succeed very much but that does not mean we should give up. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sports and other state institutions purchase quite a lot of food items. If we learn to purchase our own food items, the state institutions would be setting an example for the ordinary consumers. But if the State itself, Government itself, is purchasing imported rice, then of course, we are sitting here to talk about the issue with no focus.
Mr. Speaker, there was a time in the 1970s, during General Acheampong's time when rice production was a big business in the north. I happened to be working with the Agricultural Development Bank; I was in Tamale and we financed acreage upon acreage of rice that gave jobs to people.
Today, everybody is down here because the rice industry has collapsed. It is Ghanaians who have collapsed the industry and we must go back to try to take measures that will resuscitate the industry. Let the state industries purchase locally-produced rice and I believe some market would, by some measures, be established so that our farmers could stay in production.
With these words, Mr. Speaker, I wish to support the Statement. Luckily, the Minister for Food and Agriculture is here, the Minister responsible for Prisons is sitting here -- [Interruptions.] The Minister for the Interior, sorry -- [Laughter] -- And the Minister for Education, Science and Sports, they buy even more -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Mr. Ocran 11:10 a.m.
Sorry, Mr. Speaker -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Whom were you addressing?
Mr. Ocran 11:10 a.m.
I am addressing the issue but there is a Minister whose situation has been changing so fast that I have got confused. That is all. [Laughter.]
Mr. S. A. Kwao (NDC -- Upper Manya) 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is an adage that you can force the horse to the river but you cannot force it to drink. The problem with the Ghanaian is his mind -- the mental attitude. Mr. Speaker, we can make the best laws to make people eat local rice but we cannot force the Ghanaian to eat local rice.
I think that unless we change our attitude towards our locally- made goods, we would never succeed in this world. The Osudoku area is poverty-prone and it would be very painful for a farmer there to come out with his rice and then end up sleeping in his room with his produce.
When you happen to taste farming -- If you happen to be on the farm during the season, you will begin to share the problems of the Osudoku people. Farming is a difficult job. You start with the beginning stage and then weeding through to the end, before you harvest. After harvest you store. So it is capital intensive and it is so costly to come out with the final produce.
We have just talked about the prices of farm inputs, the prices of tractors, fertilizers and cost of ploughing; it takes a lot for the farmer to come out with his produce. I think the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has a duty to perform, and
that is finding equitable prices for the farm produce, especially rice and especially in this situation where people do not tend to like the local rice very much.
If we allow the farmer to go through this difficult process without fair reward, it means we are discouraging them from farming. About 70 per cent or so of Ghanaians are farmers and if we do not encourage them to farm and there is no employment for the youth, then where do we stand? It means there is going to be a serious crisis in this country. So I am encouraging the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to find all means to provide equitable prices for the produce of these farmers of Osudoku area.
We have gold elsewhere in Ghana; we have timber; we have manganese and other minerals but those people in Osudoku area have nothing. Their only gold is their farm produce. Therefore, I would urge the Ministry, through the hon. Minister for Ministry of Food and Agriculture, to do all that it can to see to the plight of the Osudoku people.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Before I call on the hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture, I would want to call the hon. Member for Ashaiman.
Mr. Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC -- Ashaiman) 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, this Statement has come at the right time. The hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture is here and he has heard that the Osudoku people are crying. They have produced rice but there is no market; they are sleeping with the rice in their rooms. We are saying that people should go and till the land. People have done just that but there is no market.
We are saying that people should stay in the rural areas and work and not to drift to the cities for non-existent jobs. They have done just that but they cannot get market.

We are saying that we want to reduce poverty in this country. The poor farmers might have secured loans and produced foodstuffs but they cannot market them. How can we reduce poverty in a situation like this?

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister being in the House this morning is God-sent. He must attend to the plight of the people of Osudoku. They need him because they are crying. How can they continue to sleep in their rooms with their produce? Mr. Speaker, it is becoming so serious, in the sense that some of us here are connected to farming in our various areas. Irrigation projects have been set up in the various areas. I have tried to talk about Aveyime, Afife, Dawhenya and Ashaiman; they all have irrigation sites. The people produce but there is no market and they are crying. We spend so much money in importing rice, which we can equally produce here, but the facilities for us after production are not there.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister is right here and he is looking at us, and he must do something for the Osudoku people today.

Mr. Speaker, if we do not try to market the people's rice then all that they have done, in the interest of some of us, then for those leaving school today or tomorrow to go back to the village and stay there to develop the village to the stage that the cities are in now, would not be there.

So, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister should please do something. The people are calling upon him.
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon. Member for Jirapa? Very briefly.
Mr. Edward Salia (NDC -- Jirapa) 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Member -- [Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Salia 11:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the demand for rice in this country has been rising for a long time. A lot of people have changed their eating habits from other basic staples to the eating of rice. It is, therefore, surprising that in spite of such a high demand for rice, we have a situation in our country where rice produced locally is not purchased. It is not only in the Osudoku area, I am sure; it is the case in the 22 irrigation sites in this country where rice is produced. Also, rain-fed rice is similarly not highly patronized in this country. One has to ask why it is the case.
Mr. Speaker, this morning, the hon. Minister has been answering questions on agriculture and one of the things that has come out clearly is the cost of production. Even though there is demand, if the price of the product is not affordable, the likelihood is that people will not demand that product. In our particular situation, it appears that the locally-produced rice is not as competitive as the foreign imported rice.
The imported rice is a little cheaper, partly because it is subsidized in the countries of origin, and also because they have better technology of production and their cost of production is definitely lower than the cost of production in our country. I can say it is partly because of cheap labour and their know-how in the production of rice.
Mr. Speaker, it is, therefore, important to appeal to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to see what steps it can take to make the locally-produced rice cheaper in terms of the cost of production and also the quality of that rice and its appeal to the market. I am sure that no matter where the
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
After the hon. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, comes the hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture will.

So Mr. Speaker, when I heard my hon. Friend for Ashaiman (Mr. Alfred Agbesi) speaking to the Minister, seeking an answer, I think in other words he was saying that he has done a good job.

Mr. Speaker, I think as a national
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Member for Ashaiman, do you have a point of order?
Mr. Agbesi 11:30 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, the other day, the African Union Day, the hon. Member was in Ghanaian attire. Today, he is talking about people advertising foreign products but he is not in a Ghanaian attire; he is in a dress which is foreign. Mr. Speaker, I think that he would have done us a good job if he were to appear in a Ghanaian dress today. But now he looks different and Mr. Speaker -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon. Member for Ashaiman, you have no point of order.
Mr. Osei-Adjei 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, it would gladden my hon. Friend's heart to know that my suits are made in Ghana. It is a Ghanaian tailor who made my suits. So I am patronizing -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Deputy Minister, please continue.
Mr. Osei-Adjei 11:30 a.m.
So Mr. Speaker, I
think what we need to do as I was saying is that -- In my constituency the same thing happened and when I went there and I found stacks and stacks of rice in that village, and they had to pay the bank for the money that they collected as a loan yet had no opportunity in terms of the marketing of that produce, what I suggested was that the DCE should commandeer all hospitals and schools to come to their aid.
In fact, I suggested to the banks that they should take the rice in lieu of the money. If we develop these strategies, it will help the poor farmers to realize their dreams -- making more money. It is not up to only the hon. Minister; it is up to all of us -- MPs, District Chief Executives, chiefs, et cetera, to participate in this.
The Minister's role, perhaps, is to ensure that there is enough production in the system. But when it comes to marketing, then that is another area altogether. One aspect in marketing is to bring in national consciousness so that people would patronize; and we can call them patriotic if they patronize goods that are made in Ghana. People would accept it as a God-given thing. I say so because foreigners that come here to work -- we in this Parliament have approved certain types of food that have protein for certain consultants on the floor of the House before. We have done it before.
So why is it that people are bringing
Mr. Debrah 11:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, around this time last year, the hon. Minister for food and Agriculture was being castigated in this House for not ensuring that there was enough food in this country. I very well remember that people quoted prices of maize at Bolgatanga, Tamale and Wa.
Mr. Speaker, when we began this debate, I thought people were going to congratulate the hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture for making sure that in May 2006, there is so much food in this country that nobody is complaining. [Interruptions.] Facts are facts. Wait and let me quote them for you. I can give production levels of food in this country for the past decade, beginning from 1995.
In the year 1995, we produced 6.6 million metric tonnes of cassava. In the year 2000, we produced 8.1 million metric tonnes of cassava. In the year 2005, we produced 9.567 million metric tonnes of cassava. [Interruptions.] Yam -- 1.7 million metric tonnes in 1995, 3.3 million metric tonnes in the year 2000 and 3.9 million tonnes in the year 2005 --[Interruptions.]
Mr. Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon. Minister, do not
be distracted.
Mr. Debrah 11:40 a.m.
Rice. 162,000 metric
tonnes in the year 1995, 215 metric tonnes in the year 2000, 237,000 metric tonnes
in the year 2005. This year, it is going to be more.
To the Statement on the floor, I am happy that the hon. Member has talked about so much rice produced but no buyers. In the first instance, as the hon. Member for Jirapa (Mr. Edward Salia) said, productivity is quality seed, water, good inputs and good agronomic practices. We started with three tonnes per hectare in rice production. Gradually, we have worked ourselves up and I can say that, for last year, output was seven tonnes per hectare which is a record in this country.
On irrigation, we moved from three to four, to five; and now to seven metric tonnes. So there is a lot of rice there because productivity of the farmer has gone up. It has gone up because the farmer now has better equipment to work with; he now has very good direction to go by and so they have gone up.
The glut that the hon. Member saw there was some time back; it was as a result of price negotiation.
The Kpong Irrigation Project is supported by the Agricultural Development Bank. When they produce, they arrive at the price and then it is taken away. There was a little problem between those who were buying and the farmers and that created a little bit of bottleneck that allowed the rice to pile up. That has been sorted out and the rice is now being milled from these areas. So very soon the problem of the rice pile-up there will be solved. They have started milling the rice.

Now the most important thing I want to put across today is consumption. First, it is not correct that government institutions do not eat locally-produced rice. I want to say here on authority that Prison Service,

the Military, Secondary Schools in the North and Secondary Schools in Brong Ahafo, I know, all eat locally-produced rice. They all take locally-produced rice. All prisons, the military, the police, if they are on missions, secondary schools, all eat locally-produced rice.

As I stand here, yesterday, Brong Ahafo Region wanted 38,000 bags of locally-produced rice. And the company that supplies them is milling from Kpong Irrigation. So the problem is that it is us, those of us sitting down here, the Members of Parliament, who shout, and shout about “eat locally-produced rice”. Let us be honest with ourselves. How many of us eat locally-produced rice? How many of us? The second point is that it is not the price that is the factor. The locally- produced rice is still cheaper than the imported rice.

Afife Perfumed Rice cost about three hundred thousand cedis per 50 kilogram rice and other imported perfumed rice cost as much as five hundred thousand cedis, yet me and you decide to go and buy the imported rice instead of buying the produced in Ghana rice. All of us sitting down here -- So if we were eating locally- produced rice we shall not be standing here talking about importation of rice. And I am very happy that it has now come to the floor that it is important for us to eat locally-produced rice to ensure that our farmers get more money into their pockets and our economy moves forward.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. Member for Bawku
Mr. Ayariga 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister
is clearly misleading this House. He is creating the impression that those of us in this House do not eat locally- produced rice. He specifically said “you and I, we do not eat locally-produced rice”. Mr.
Speaker, if this is a confession on his part, as Minister for Food and Agriculture he does not eat locally- produced rice, he should say so explicitly. But to impute it to the rest of the House, Mr. Speaker, is unacceptable. He should withdraw that statement.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Let him continue.
Mr. Debrah 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I said that
because charity begins at home. And that we should advise ourselves and our wives. When your wife goes to the market she asks for Jasmin Perfumed Rice and then they give her that and she comes and cook for you because it is tasty. Mr. Speaker, next week I will bring bags of -- This time not even Afife, but Kpone perfumed rice to all Members of Parliament to go and cook and eat and then see whether it is not better than the imported rice.
The second point is that as a matter of fact the produced-in-Ghana rice is better than the imported rice because it is milled as soon as it is harvested whereas the imported rice might have stayed there for about five solid years before it got to you. So the nutritional value is that the made- in-Ghana rice is far better than the imported rice. And I think as a matter of fact we must change -- Ghanaians must change our eating habits. We must change our taste for foreign things and then come to the local rice.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Evalue-Gwira, do you have a point of order?
Mr. Armah 11:40 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Armah 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as much as I appreciate the point made by the
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon. Member, this is not
a point of order. Let him continue.
Mr. Debrah 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, now
produced-in-Ghana rice are being found in the supermarkets. Sometimes we give some excuses about certain things because we want to run away from the problem. I can say surely right now, that this rice that is stacked up there is purely a matter of demand and supply.
If you take away the Prisons, the Police Service and the schools and some hospitals, all Ghanaians are clamouring for imported rice. That is why the rice is stacked up there. So my plea is that as the Ministry is doing its best to increase rice production in this country, we must as a people change our taste and eat made- in- Ghana rice because the fact is that while it is more nutritious, it will support our country and it is cheaper.
So I support all that has been said but now let us be the ambassadors of this eat Ghana-rice campaign and go about and tell people that we Members of this august House have decided to lead the crusade for the eating of local rice in this country.
Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
At the Commencement
of Public Business Item 6 -- Laying of Papers -- the following Papers to be laid.
PAPERS 11:40 a.m.

-- 11:40 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 11:40 a.m.
At this stage, Chief
Whip, any indications?
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:40 a.m.
Speaker, I may crave your indulgence that we stand item number 7 down until tomorrow or subsequent after today. If
Mr. Doe Adjaho 11:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:40 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.50 a.m. till 31st May, 2006 at 10.00 a.m.