Madam Speaker, I do
Madam Speaker, all that I was reacting to was that I came to meet the situation, and we have reactivated Aveyime, and the Budget is capturing that Aveyime will be reactivated. And I am saying that it has already been activated.
Madam Speaker, as I said earlier, this is
in line with the thinking of President John Evans Atta Mills when he said in the State of the Nation Address, page two, the last paragraph and I quote:
“We will learn as a Nation to add to what is working, and to change course only when it is in the National interest to do so . . .”
I want to add in my own way that it is also necessary for us to learn as a nation to
acknowledge, appreciate and endorse what is good and what has been done that is good for this country no matter which part of the political lineage one is coming from; that is the beginning of nation building.
Madam Speaker, having said that I want to move to next section that I talked about, and that is targets set in the Budget, and I would refer to page 63, paragraph 266 of the Budget; and it states:
“Food Security and Emergency Preparedness:
Government will increase food produc t ion th rough the in - tensification of production on existing cropped lands for all food crops by expanding the areas under cultivation. Maize and rice production is expected to increase by 42.2 per cent and 22.8 per cent, respectively. The production of groundnuts, cowpea and soyabean are projected to increase by 25.4 per cent, 37.7 per cent and 11.5 per cent, respectively.”
Madam Speaker, if I want to continue; it says:
“Government will encourage farmers to expand the total acreage of cultivation in the areas devoted to maize, rice and groundnuts. The area under maize cultivation is expected to increase by 24 per cent while that under rice and groundnut cultivation are expected to increase by 9 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.”
Madam Speaker, these are very interesting figures. Target setting is not for nothing; targets must be achievable, targets must be challenging and targets must be time bound. This, I do not know whether it is time bound; but since it is 2009 Budget, then we presume that the 45
per cent increase in maize, 22.8 increase in rice are for the 2009 fiscal year.
Madam Speaker, if you look at the current production, and I will talk on maize alone, we produce 1.2 million metric tonnes of maize a year. If we are going to increase by 42 per cent, we are going to have an increase of 506,000 metric tonnes of maize a year. First, you need to prepare the land, and if you are in March and you are talking about 506,000 metric tonnes of maize, additional to what is produced, then I do not know what you are talking of.
You need to also look at planting material; certified seed to plant. Where are you going to get that from, if you have already not projected that into the planting season this year? These are figures that are going to go, not only to the agriculture GDP, but to the national GDP.
Madam Speaker, these figures are unachievable by any standard. They cannot be achieved by any standard. So I think when you are setting targets, you ought to have a critical look at that because you are going to factor this in the agriculture GDP and the national GDP. And as it is right now, I will advise that the Hon Minister goes back to look at these figures with bureaucrats so that in the mid-year review we can have these things corrected; other than that it is going to distort both our agriculture and the national GDP figures.
Madam Speaker, having said that, let
me move to the third point that I wanted to talk about, and that is shift towards commercial agriculture. And I would refer you to page 284, paragraphs 1148 and 1149 -- [Pause] -- and I quote:
“Funding for large scale commercial agriculture has always been the bane of the accelerated development in