Bridging the economic dev’t gap between the North and South (1)


Fellow craftsmen will agree that the sun always rises in the East, ascends to meridian height in the South, and sets in the West, with no corresponding light in the North. The English Catechism of 1792 explains that there were only three gates to King Solomon’s Temple: South, West, and East but that “at the North there was no Entrance, because the Rays of the Sun never darted from that point.”

Interesting, isn’t it?

In this sense, it is easy to draw the conclusion that the North is dark and that nothing good could come from there. Perhaps, but not always.The north of America is the United States and the United States of America pride herself as the biggest economy and the super power nation in the world. The same obviously cannot be said about northern Ghana, or? Hands in the air. No hands? (Credit to Black Sheriff)

Reforms in the North 

Since independence and even during the colonial era, the storyline of northern Ghana’s economic development in relation to its enormous land size and potential has been a subject of discussion. Northern Ghana is dry, not suitable for growing cash crops such as cocoa, coffee, and cashew, and in many parts lacks mineral resources.

According to a senior lecturer at the Tamale Technical University, Dr. A. Bawa, agricultural is the main activity in the north of Ghana, and about 97.9 percent of households are engaged in crop farming such as maize, rice, sorghum, soy beans, cowpea, cassava, yam, cotton, and vegetables, with a few households engaging in poultry, livestock, and pig rearing. He emphasized that the sector is the largest source of employment and is dominated by smallholder farmers.

A report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2017 stresses that since 2005, Ghana has continued to show steady improvements in economic growth of over 7% per year on average, making it the first African country to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. However, as growth has accelerated, the disparities between the Northern and Southern broad regions in terms of economic development have become clearer. (AfDB, 2019)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also affirms the disparities that exist between Ghana’s Northern and Southern regions. According to a report by the Agency on Agriculture and Food Security, nearly 68 percent of Ghanaians in the Northern Region live on less than $1.25 a day, and stunting rates among children under five are as high as 40 percent in some districts in the region.

In 2021, the Agency assisted over 63,000 farmers in northern Ghana—more than half of them women—in gaining access to agricultural supplies and financing, an intervention that generated over $12 million in sales. The Agency also mobilised 3,000 women to save $250,000 through local savings and loan societies during the same year. (USAID, 2021).

Thus, any attempt to “shine a light” on the agriculture potentials of the north, which have the capacity to provide prosperity to the people, should be encouraged and commended.

Ken Agyapong

A recent statement from the Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong, that “the North cannot be impoverished; the North cannot be poor” is a significant remark, even though similar statements have been made by some leaders in the country. What is more intriguing is his affinity to own many acres of farming land in the north and eventually build a processing factory in Wa, in the Upper East region, to create jobs and put the lands to good use. He, also, talked about expanded access to credit facilities from commercial banks and microfinance institutions, while lauding the government’s policy of “One Village, One Dam.”

The five Northern regions have a competitive edge in non-traditional cash crops, including onions, tomatoes, and beans, for the southern market and European export. In addition to the policies already in place, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong believes fresh, comprehensive national policies are required to increase market access and supply chain competitiveness.

We can do it. 

Ghana was officially declared self-sufficient in rice production in 1974, three years after General Kutu Acheampong launched the policy of “Operation Feed Yourself.” The objective was to boost food production and make Ghana food self-sufficient. The government of Acheampong backed the initiative through subsidized farm supplies, access to credit facilities, and duty-free imports of agricultural equipment.

It is the view of the Ghanaian Member of Parliament to mimic “Operation Feed Yourself” with all its seriousness and urgency.

It is time to change the narrative and support any course aimed at bringing prosperity to the north, at least to stop the heavy migration of young people, especially girls, from the north to the south in search of greener pastures.

The phrase “the best come from the west” could be an alliteration or a classical rhyme, but whatever interpretation is given to it, I share the proposition of Kennedy Agyapong that henceforth, “the Fourth must face North,” meaning that in the Fourth Republic Ghana must examine the north critically in terms of agriculture, food security, and job creation.

Let’s face the North!

The writer is a popular Kumasi based broadcast journalist with over two decades of experience in radio business. He is the host of Pure FM’s morning show and currently pursuing a Visual Communication Design at the PhD level at the Kwame Nkrumah University Science and Technology.

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