Date: April 1, 2009, 8:05 pm


FARMERS CALL ON AFRICAN LEADERS TO REJECT EPAS


Peasant farmers and some civil society groups in the country have called on African ministers and negotiators to reject the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union. The group argued that when the economic agreements came into force, it would collapse local manufacturing industry as well as the agricultural sector as subsidized goods would be dumped in Ghana and other signatory economies. The administrative secretary of the Osudoku Agricultural Cooperatives Association, Mr. David Odonkor, at a no EPAs forum organized by the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition, at Asutsuare in the Dangbe East District called on ministers and delegates who will be attending the ACP meeting in Accra to kick against such lopsided economic agreements.

He drew attention to flows in fertilizer subsidy under the governments emergency plan and said if such simple policies could not be implemented why should such agreements which have far reaching consequences on the local agricultural industry be signed. Currently government has initialed the EPAs light despite calls from Ghana Trade Union Congress and the Association of Ghana Industries and other bodies urging it not to sign the agreements due to the dire consequences they will have on the agricultural sector and other sectors of the economy. According to tomato and rice farmers in the Eastern and Central regions, if the government signs onto the EPAs, it would lead to the total collapse of the agricultural sector which is the backbone of the economy.

Representatives of these groups have also indicated that with the current deplorable state of the Ghanaian farmer, it was impossible for them to compete with their European colleagues. These concerns were raised when the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition organized a tour of Asutsuare and Okyereko in the Eastern and Central Regions respectively as part of its efforts to have a first hand assessment of governments policy of banning imported tomato paste and the institutional purchase of local rice and poultry which was introduced last year and the likely negative impact of the EPAs on these policies should it come into force. Speaking on behalf of tomato farmers at Ada, Mr. Jacob Kwabla Kpodo, a tomato farmer said challenges faced by these farmers included lack of access routes to their farms, their inability to purchase modern equipment to meet current trends and difficulty in accessing loans from banks. He said that governments decision to ban the importation of tomato paste from November first of last year led to an increase in their yields.

They were able to access new variety of tomato seeds and got a ready market for their products. More youth got involved in the cultivation of the product. He has therefore encouraged government to renovate the many tomato factories in the country and make more efforts in putting up new ones. The coordinator of GLTC, Mr. Ibrahim Akalbila, said that the two-policy initiative by government was an indication that it has the strength to introduce policies that would be beneficial to Ghana. He however said that since government introduced the two policies, efforts to get the modalities spelt out have been very difficult although they were hopeful of getting a positive reply soon. Even though farmers have urged government to maintain the ban on the importation of tomato paste into the country, they also wish the ban would extend to rice as well. If the ban in maintained, it would encourage Ghanaians to eat and patronize made in Ghana products and goods.



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