Mr. Speaker, I rise to give support to the Statement made by the Chairman of the Committee and in doing so, I would like to make a few remarks.
It is always good to congratulate our gallant farmers and fishers for a good agricultural year because they have been able to put food on our table, raw materials for our factories and some more products for export for the needed foreign
But beyond the champagne popping,
there is the need always to have some analytical reflection of events during the year 2008 both internally and externally. So it is not surprising that the theme for this year's celebration was “globalisation and its impact on agriculture in ghana”. This is similarly important because events on the globe definitely affects the terms of our agricultural trade and competitiveness in the sector, particularly that 2008 was very eventful because many things happened globally.
First of all we have very high crude oil prices, nearly $150 per barrel, unprecedented in our history and this impacted directly on agricultural input such as fertilizer and other agro-chemicals that are needed by ghanaian farmers to produce.
There was also global food shortage culminating in very high rise in food prices. In some countries this resulted in food rationing, even for the most advanced economies. In certain places there were riots because people protested for food prices to be lowered by governments. Now, just as these things were quietening, there was the issue of credit crunch and financial crisis that currently is on the global scene. All these events definitely had some rough times for agriculture in ghana and government had to intervene with some measures to reduce the impact of this global events on the ghanaian economy.
Certainly, there were some reduced taxes on petroleum products, subsidy on fertilizer and farm machinery as already elaborated by the Chairman. But these were meant, of course, to assist farmers in their production efforts.
We also have to thank many advocacy groups and the ECOWAS as a sub-region, or as a region that put in some regional initiatives to back individual governments to give this support to its citizens so that the agricultural year could go on smooth- ly. The global context has an extremely difficult situation for ghana's agriculture and impacts generally on the ghanaian farmer.
However, in spite of all these difficulties, there is also another lingering problem for ghanaian farmers that must engage the government. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is one piece of agreement that worries farmers in the Third World countries and ghana as a country, even though we have signed an interim agreement, we must take steps to ensure that this agreement benefits our farmers in the long run.
This is extremely important because some details of the Economic Partnership Agreement do not necessarily benefit our farmers and care must be taken so that our farmers' livelihoods as ghanaians, do not suffer in the process.
Trade may be global but its impact is local and community in nature and therefore, it is the responsibility of democratically elected governments to ensure that they critically examine the details of some of these provisions in the EPA so that our farmers benefit in the long run. This is particularly important because according to the World Development Report, 2007, an economy that relies on agriculture to grow is four times more effective than any other sector and that is why no stone must be left unturned to get our farmers moving.
Mr. Speaker, another challenge facing agriculture at the community level is the
way we manage the environment and its impact on agriculture. Mining and bio- fuels come to mind. There is an absolute need to set standards, so that in the name of investment, we would not lose out our natural resources to profits by multi- nationals.
In certain cases, the link between foreign interests and community owners of lands is not well defined and all you find is that in the final analysis, these groupings just go straight to the community level and finally you find the communities complaining. There is the need for us to make an arrangement such that there is harmony when people go to our communities to invest.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our
farmers again for the celebration. But I would like to make a very small suggestion that perhaps, as a way of getting our youth interested in farming and the fact that we have celebrated the National Farmers' Day for nearly 25 years, we introduce a youth category for farmers so that young farmers who excell are also rewarded on days designed for the National Farmers' Day.
Finally, I welcome the President to the farmers fold since he received a new tractor. He must be a very lucky farmer to have started farming with a brand new tractor because I have read the President's Curriculum Vitae (CV) several times and on no occasion was he a farmer. I believe that if he goes to start farming on retirement he may appreciate the frustrations that confront farmers very much and would know that what he has done for farmers in the country was probably not in vain. I pray that he joins us and then can even probably apply to win an award some day. I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. J. B. Aidoo ( NPP -- Amenfi
East): Mr. Speaker, I am also rising to