Indications are now emerging that Africans have woken up to the indignity of living on a green continent where crops grow all the year round and yet their governments spend billions annually on food imports and depend on charity handouts.
A campaign and advocacy group for agriculture, One Africa, is currently lobbying African heads of state and making a case for prioritisation of agriculture and transparency in budgets for small holder farmers across Africa. Speaking at the Flagstaff House where it lobbied for the support of President John Dramani Mahama, ahead of an African Union Meeting in Equatorial Guinea next week, One Africa Executive Director, Sipho Moyo, told President Mahama it was time African leaders made issues of budgetary allocations on agriculture more transparent.
Dr. Moyo disclosed that the European Union (EU), under its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programme spent over 40% of its budget to subsidize European farmers. “The EU in 2010 spent 72.6 billion U.S dollars, more than twice Ghana’s GDP in 2010 of USD 32.2 billion, of its general budget on subsidies to its farmers. Thirty-nine billion euros of the amount was spent as direct subsidies (cash payments) to the farmers and 18 billion euros on indirect subsidies”, Dr. Moyo said.
He appealed to President Mahama to convince his fellow heads of state to put in place measures that would make agriculture attractive, especially to the youth, on the continent and also conscientise the minds of the youth in Africa, that Agriculture was no longer a second class occupation. Responding, President Mahama accused the World Bank and International Monetary Fund of forcing African governments to abandon subsidies for their farmers.
“Indeed African Agriculture was affected in the 70s by the policies of the World Bank and the IMF. They came with policies that said that we should allow the farmers to compete. “We were made to remove subsidies… while they continued subsidizing farmers in the western countries, the African farmer was left to himself”, he said.
Promising that he would take up the crusade of One Africa, President Mahama assured that various measures put in place in the country were already yielding results; although reaching the small scale farmers has been a major challenge, adding: “It’s only now that we are putting in the investment to try and reverse the trend and we are making quite major successes”.
The Chronicle welcomes One Africa’s crusade to make Africa feed itself and possibly become a net exporter of food, and promise them our full support.
It is an irredeemable shame that despite having arable lands, Ghana imports rice, onions and tomatoes, products that we can grow ourselves, with our meat industry also heavily dependent on Europe and South America for chicken. We could blame the Bretton Woods institution for the comatose state of African agriculture but it escapist. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were able to tie the hands of African leaders because of the leaders’ own mismanagement, corruption and incompetence.
How would someone who funds up to 40 percent of your annual budget allow you to subsidise your farmers so that they could compete favourably with their own farmers? There is no free lunch in Soho and the price we pay foreign governments, our so-called development partners for their free budgetary support we get year to year, is the directive to lay waste our agriculture. Surely it is not too much a price to pay? If it is please let us put our house in order! NOW!!
Source: The Chronicle
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