Mr Speaker, can you imagine what this economy would be like without this GH¢1.7 billion -- where would the cedi be? The contribution that farmers of this country continue to make is so important, yet this budget Statement clearly shows that farmers and fishermen are not the priority of this budget. Why do I say so? If you take together the total amount of money allocated to the two Ministries of Food and Agriculture and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, they come to only GH¢484 million out of the GH¢44 billion allocated to all the sectors.
That is only 1.1 per cent of the total amount of resources allocated for various activities in this country and in the six- year administration of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, percentage allocated to such a critical sector.
Mr Speaker, on 25th February, 2014, the President of the Republic of Ghana, came here for the State of the Nation Address and complained about the fact that Ghana was importing US$1.5 billion of food into this country -- basic food staples which can be produced cheaply in this country. That is what he came to complain about.
He does not make any reference to the fact that since this Administration took over six years ago, our food import bill was less than US$600 million. So, he has presided over an explosion in food imports to US$1.5 billion. This is very simple because if you look at the performance of agriculture, the growth rate of the general economy in the six years, has been on average, an annual growth rate of, 8.8 per cent, agriculture averaged 4.7 per cent. So, it means that agricultural growth is only half of the growth of the economy. What it means is that, consequently, food imports are
being sucked in. This is because agriculture is not doing enough to produce food for the people of this country. That is a very simple explanation.
Mr Speaker, I will just take three examples -- rice. In 2009, when this Government took over, we imported 384,000 metric tons of rice. Since then, rice imports have exploded to consistently over half a million metric tons. In 2013, it went to 577,000 metric tons. That is the predicament of this country, that in six years, a basic item like rice is being imported in large quantities. I am not even talking about the illegal rice smuggling across the border from Ivory Coast, which the local rice associations have been complaining about. I am talking about the officially landed statistics.
Mr Speaker, that is the situation that we have in this country. If you take fish and you take poultry, it is even worst. Ghanaians have had to import almost double what they used to import in the six years of this Administration. From 171,000 tons of fish, we are now importing -- we imported in 2013, 265,000 metric tons.
It is the same for poultry. Poultry imports rose from 69,000 metric tons in the same period to 148,000 metric tons.
Mr Speaker, these are very serious trends and very worrying. It means that having presided over an explosion in imports of basic food crops from US$600 million a year to US$1.5 billion, we could soon be seeing imports of US$2 billion and could go on and on. It, therefore, makes what this Budget Statement is saying about agriculture very serious.
Mr Speaker, in the same vein, in 2013, Ghana imported 216,000 metric tons of sugar, 114,000 metric tons of tomatoes and 124,000 metric tons of cooking oil -- ordinary cooking oil, and we are now importing over 124,000 metric tons.
Mr Speaker, I am using these volumes because they actually bring out the seriousness of the situation. If you look at the values sometimes, on the international market, of course, the prices go up and down. But using actual volumes would tell you the way our farmlands are being flooded with imports because of lack of performance of agriculture in this country.
Now, Mr Speaker, I am saying that the growth in import is related to our agriculture performance and it is obvious. In 2008 and 2009, agriculture was growing at more than 7 per cent. Since then, we have not seen it come to that level. It went as low as 0.8 per cent in 2011and it is now hovering around 5 per cent. And that 5 per cent, we know in the last two years, rainfall has benefited our agriculture tremendously, otherwise, without the good rain and so on, I do not know what the growth of this economy would have been.
If you take two major interventions of this Government to help with the growth in agriculture, Mr Speaker, you would see from these budgets -- last year's budget and this year's budget, the defects in the whole programme of trying to resuscitate our agriculture growth.
We take tractor hire services, which the Ministry of Agriculture calls Agriculture Mechanisation Service Enterprise Centres (AMSEC). AMSEC in the last year, there were supposed to be 89 tractor hire services in this country. This budget is saying that they are going to do another 41. Mr Speaker, I am amazed! Forty-one (41) tractor hire services in addition to the 84 in one year? They forget that in 2009, we had 86. So, within this period, of five (5) years, we have had three (3) more AMSECs established and
how is it possible that we could have another 41 in one year? Somebody is not making their calculations right, Mr Speaker. Somebody is not taking the crises in our agriculture serious otherwise, they would not come and mention in this Budget Statement here that they are going to establish 41 new centres.
Mr Speaker, as a Committee, we were in the Northern Region about three weeks ago and we know that most of the existing tractor hire services are not even operational. These tractors are either broken down because of lack of spare parts or lack of maintenance and so on.
If you care to ask farmers, they would tell you that it is either only partially working or it is not working at all. And to write in this Budget Statement that they are going to establish 41 new centres, when there have been only three established in five years, beats my imagination. Somebody is not being serious about tackling the very serious agricultural crisis that is endangering our food security in this country.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, you know that productivity on farms comes from mechanisation and application of fertilisers. Mr Speaker, in last year's Budget Statement, it was very clear -- they stated that they were going to import and distribute 180,000 metric tons of fertiliser -- NPK and the others.
Mr Speaker, if you ask me how many were distributed; zero! In the past year, not one bag of subsidised fertiliser was distributed to farmers in this country. I am here to be challenged by anybody who would say that the Ministry imported subsidised fertiliser --