Leadership of the Majority.
Second Deputy Majority Whip (Mr Moses Anim): Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute.
welcome. We have already had Phases I and II and they have been very successful. The Report indicates that the rate of recovery had been 100 percent, and we are also told that the interest rate to farmers is very moderate. Currently, the credit line for out growers' scheme stands at 18 per cent per annum and therefore, this is a lower rate that would enhance productivity.
Mr Speaker, we really want to increase production, and if we want to do so, then it means the value chain is very critical. We have identified one aspect of the value chain, which is Out growers' Scheme, and it is a way of putting together the farmers so that accessing and recovering of credit become easy. Also, giving them extension services and training as a group would become very easy.
Mr Speaker, some of the crops that have been identified, in my view, are very important. For instance, rice, if we are able to increase its production through this facility and Out growers Scheme, definitely, we would reduce our rice import and in so doing, strengthen our cedi, which is also one of the critical economic indicators.
Mr Speaker, then I come to pineapple. The MD2 that came in, we were compelled to go for it. In terms of quality, we could not sustain the technology for MD2 even though it had the export market in terms of colour, the sugar and acid levels and blending it to make organoleptic.
As a result, we could not keep the seed for the smooth cayenne which was so tropical in nature for our production. We have now lost the smooth cayenne and we need the Out-growers Scheme to bring back the smooth cayenne because the MD2 technology could not be sustained.
We could not provide the precooling chain facility and for that matter, we were not able to take the export market for the MD2. For now, the smooth cayenne is gone and we are left with the sugarloaf, which cannot be processed because of its high sugar level; the blending nature cannot be done. Therefore, we need to go back to the smooth cayenne and cultivate it for production.
Astech is coming back, and if it is coming back and we are putting more processing plants for fruit juice, then we need to go back and look at our pineapple and also the oranges. But for now, it is pineapple production that this facility is being extended to. Therefore, I think that these are critical areas that we have to do that.
Mr Speaker, also, there are post- harvest handling and post-harvest processing. If we are able to put the farmers together as out-growers, then we should be able to let them know how to handle those perishable products like pineapple that does not have a long shelf life, and we would be able to train them in that direction. In my view, this is a facility worth supporting, and as much as we can, we should be able to do that.
Mr Speaker, we know we are challenged with land. We have lost most of our lands for residential purposes. I think it is high time we began to look at land banks that can be put to use for agricultural purposes. My constituency was the food basket for Accra. When we were young at Pokuase and its environs, we produced maize and all that to supply Accra.
Now, my constituency is an entire residential Municipality. There is no place to cultivate; there is no place for agriculture. As it is extending, we are getting to Nsawam. Mr Speaker, Ankwa Dobro has also linked up to Nsawam, and so the Pokuase- Kumasi road, which hitherto had a land for agricultural purposes, is becoming a residential area.
I know as we keep going down there, it would happen in the same way. There should be a land policy that we can, at least, take hold of certain lands as land banks for agricultural purposes.
We really want to develop this country. We have One District, One Factory (1D1F) and other policies that would strengthen our cedi, and what would not make us take loans everywhere is agriculture. Therefore, I believe that this facility needs support and I encourage all of us to put our hands on deck and support it for its intended purposes.
Members of Parliament around must also show interest in their constituency as well. Members of Parliament who now have lands for
agricultural purposes, this is a facility for all of us to go back to our constituencies and encourage our people to go into Out-growers Scheme, which is difficult to handle at times.
Sometimes, our own people, after giving them the facility and putting up a payment structure for them, when they cultivate the crops and sell them out, coming back to pay becomes an issue for them. This is where we can all help the Ministry to make sure that we get peasant farmers who are really serious. Let us all support this Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.