When the Akufo-Addo – Bawumia led government took over the helms of affairs on the 7th of January 2017 with a landslide electioneering victory in December the year before, many were expecting a much better economic administration especially considering the unrestrained campaign the New Patriotic Party (NPP) embarked on with the nation’s Veep Mahamudu Bawumia at the forefront. The President and his vice were able to win the 2016 polls by the kind courtesy of an industrialization-driven manifesto which mainly hinges on agriculture with the flagship ‘One District One Factory (1D1F)’ a mainstay. Many will agree that aside the free educational policy, the 1D1F policy was a contributory factor that steered the NPP to victory in 2016.
Ghanaians envisaged that the 1D1F coupled with the ‘One Village One Dam’ were going to be the trump card in turning around the fortunes of a spiraling economy as they foresaw possibilities of an agro-based economy where unemployment and high inflation will be suppressed. Five years down the road and Ghanaians are grumbling about the very issues that sent the Mahama – Amissah-Arthur government parking. Inflation rate for May, 2022 has skyrocketed to 27.6% which is 268% more than that for May 2021. After reaching a long time low of 7.5% in May last year, the inflation rate has soared astronomically with imported food and non-food commodities such as grapes, diesel, petrol and gas steering the rise.
Ghana has recorded her highest inflation rate since 2004 and the economy is not getting any better as the calendar rolls on with Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and Finance Minister Ken-Ofori Atta now dead men walking. The visionary 2016 manifesto which was envisioned to alleviate poverty among the mass Ghanaians has really fallen on hard rocks, if not thorny bushes. With a struggling global economy reeling from the impact of mainly the Russia-Ukraine war and slightly that of COVID, agriculture and industrialization have clearly been vindicated as the backbone of the West Africa country.
When the Akufo-Addo – Bawaumia government assumed office, many thought they would go by their word and make Ghana the leading agro-based industry in Africa, if not West Africa. A cursory look at the 1D1F website shows that there are two hundred and thirty-two (232) projects undertaken with twenty-eight (28) being new factories (green fields) and forty-eight (48) being a revamp of existing factories (brown fields). The new Ekumfi Fruits and Juice Limited, Walewale watermelon factory and the revamped Komenda sugar factory are sparse agro-based factories either completed or expected to be completed this year.
The government of Ghana has done little as expected to transform the nation into an agro-led industry. Industrialization and agriculture go in tandem and no nation has ever prospered industrially without recourse to fundamental agriculture. To put it in the words of His Excellency Mahamudu Bawumia, ‘when your fundamental agriculture is weak, your inflation rate will expose you’. 2022 has been very gloomy for Ghana. Overreliance on imported foodstuffs such as wheat, tomatoes, yam, rice, soybeans and poultry has even worsen the plight of local consumers aside the high prices of fuel as global external shocks and a depreciating cedi has gone a long way to make these goods expensive. Undoubtedly, these importations are the main reasons for the high inflation rate in the country.
With perturbing global economic shocks where some economists are forecasting a recession, the obvious way out for Ghana is strong agro-based industrialization. The cocoa factories, watermelon factories, juice factories, cement factories, tomatoe puree factories and what have you cannot be built without recourse to fundamental agriculture. Surely, industrialization without agriculture is an obvious failing truce! The external global shocks are not dwindling any time soon and we can only find a headway by calling on our local food producers to scale-up production. This high inflation has been described as supply induced and the monetary policies formulated periodically by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Ghana has done little to suppress it.
Farmers need to be supported with waivers and subsidies on fertilizers and farm inputs. The government needs to support local organic fertilizer producers to produce large quantities in order to feed struggling farmers. We cannot industrialize without agriculture. In fact industrialization without agriculture is an obvious failing truce.
The writer is an Accountant