Video: Ministerial Vetting – Agric Minister-Designate Makes False Claim about Planting for Food and Jobs

The Minister-designate for Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, engaged in exchanges with the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South, Alhassan Suhuyini, over the funding sources for the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Programme when he took his turn at the Appointments Committee of Parliament.

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who had served as the minister for Agric from 2017 to January 2021, met the Committee on February 19, 2021, when the Tamale South MP wanted to find out other funding sources for the Planting for Food and Jobs Program apart from the ones contracted by the previous government.

The minister-designate responded that the government of Ghana had been the sole funding agency for the program.

Fact-Check Ghana has verified the claim and presents the verdict and the explanations below.

Claim: “It’s our own resources which have gone into Planting for Food and Jobs. Not any Canadian or any foreign intervention. It is the commitment of the President of the Republic to see to it that we put Agriculture on a solid footing. And that’s where the resources are coming from.”

Verdict: Completely False.

 

Explanation: The Planting for Food and Jobs Program (PFJ) is being funded with facilities contracted by the government of Ghana from some donor countries including Canada and Korea.

This information was given by the same nominee, Dr. Akoto, then Agriculture Minister in an interview with Daily Graphic in February 2017.

“So far, we are getting some good responses. The Canadian government has offered 135 million Canadian dollars to support the programme. The Korean government is supporting all the districts in the Central Region with $9 million and the Chinese government is thinking about giving us fertilizer to support the programme. We are still talking to our development partners,” Dr Akoto explained.

A report on the Canadian government’s support of the PFJ programme is published on the website of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) titled “Canadian Government Pumps $120M Dollars into Planting for Food and Jobs Program

The report indicates that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Ghana whereas the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ms Heather Anne Cameron, signed on behalf of the Canadian Government at the premises of the Ministry of Finance.

Explaining the rationale behind the funding in the MoFA report, Dr. Afriyie Akoto said the amount would be released in five tranches over the next five years and would go into two main components of the programme, including the purchasing and supply of improved seedlings as well as extension services support for beneficiary farmers to be captured under the initiative.

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto (arrowed) standing together with other personalities including the former Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta at the signing of the Canadian Loan for the PFJ programme

Also, President Akufo-Addo, delivering his maiden State of the Nation Address on February 21, 2017, further confirmed that the Canadian Government had provided Ghana with a loan facility to stimulate the programme.

“We have to irrigate our lands and equip farmers with the skills needed to make farming a well-paying business. We aim to popularize farming by encouraging many people to take it up as a full or part-time activity. A National Campaign, “PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS”, will be launched to stimulate this activity. An amount of 125 million Canadian dollars has been secured from Canada, a friend of our nation, to support the initiative,” the President said

From the facts adduced above, it is completely False for the minister-designate to say that the Government of Ghana is the sole funder of the Planting for Food and Jobs Initiative.

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