I am particularly happy that I have been able to honour your invitation to me to inaugurate your 7th Annual National Delegates’ Conference.
This year’s National Delegates’ Conference is of Special importance because it is the first to be held since the launching of our Second Five-Year Development Plan. The Second Development Plan is geared to bring prosperity to the people, especially to the farmers of the country.
The 19th century colonial philosophy of mercantilism, which meant the using of a territory as a source of raw material while at the same time dumping, manufactured goods from the metropolis of the imperial colonial power, is out of date.
The Five-Year Development Plan is so important to the nation that we must all do what we possibly can to implement it within the Scheduled time. In order to achieve this, we shall need foreign investment and technical assistance. We may even have to borrow money. In doing this, as I have said many a time, we must in all our negotiations and agreements avoid what l call economic imperialism, or do anything that may compromise our political independence. In other words, economic and technical assistance should carry with them no political implications of any kind whatsoever. What we want is a genuine and unfettered economic and technical co-partnership with friendly and freedom- loving nations. Co-partnership, assistance and technical know-how from such nations will be welcome; in developing our economy both from the industrial and from the agricultural nation, we must encourage friendly outside investment in our major agricultural project on a partnership basis.
It is in this sense, or with these reservations, and in an atmosphere of goodwill and friendly co-operation, that our Five-Year Development Plan shall-be achieved.
As we gather here today to discuss the farmers’ and peasants’ role in economic and social development of our country, representatives of nationalist and Trade Union organisations all over Africa are holding the Second All - African People’s Conference in Tunis. Among the subjects they are discussing are: the acceleration of the liberation of Africa, the new forms of imperialism and plans for the realisation of African unity and independence. And we enjoin all Africans everywhere- be they farmers, peasants, workers, doctors, engineers, teachers — to strive with sincerity, loyalty and courage for the achievement of this noble cause of African independence and unity.
We recognize the importance of agriculture as our basic industry and it is our policy to devote increasing attention to its development. Accordingly, the Second Five-Year Development Plan lays great emphasis on the diversification of agriculture. The success of the agricultural proposals of the plan will depend on your support. By your voluntary deduction of the cocoa price by 12s. per load of sixty pounds, you have already clearly demonstrated your support to the plan as a whole.
The agricultural proposals of the Second Five-Year Development Plan are as follows: to raise the yield of the cocoa industry; to establish large acreage in rubber and bananas: to develop the production of maize, rice, tobacco, poultry, pigs, cattle for beef and milk, cotton, coffee, oil palm, coconut, yams, groundnuts, sugar, millet and sorghum; to improve the country’s fishing industry; to bring the Volta flood plains irrigation and to study and promote the use of fertilizers.
I hope you will make a careful study of the agricultural aspect of the plan and specify your targets for each year of the plan period.
The basic requirements of a successful development of agriculture are research work, experiments on the conclusions of research workers to find the economic feasibility of their proposals, extension work to educate and guide farmers on modern farm techniques credit facilities to enable farmers to make commercial farms, marketing facilities to enable farmers to sell their crops and, lastly, processing facilities to preserve perishable agricultural commodities. Arrangements are being made to supply these requirements.
If the agricultural proposals in the Second Five-Year Development Plan are successfully carried out, we shall be able not only to raise the standard of living of the farmers of this country, but also to increase their purchasing power.
On the 31st October last year at the official opening of the "Famers House," l gave notice to the people of Ghana of our intention to establish a National Co-operative Council which would be the apex body of the various co-operative organisations in Ghana. l am happy to announce that this council came into being on Monday, the 7th December, 1959, with the following aims and objects:
Firstly, to spread the principles and methods of cooperation among all the communities in Ghana; secondly, to represent cooperative organisations of all kinds both at home and abroad: thirdly, to provide for the cooperative movement services of inspection, supervision, publicity and education; fourthly to coordinate the activities of all cooperative organisations in Ghana, and, lastly, to safeguard the interests of the cooperative movement in Ghana.
The great Convention People’s Party, which has achieved freedom and independence for Ghana is a mighty army of farmers and workers. Our party and our government have enjoyed the unconditional support of the country’s farmers under the leadership of the United Ghana Farmers Council. By standing solidly behind us, you have helped to create an atmosphere which is congenial to the establishment of a stable government and a sound economy. By the many self-help projects carried out by farmers in the rural areas, you have clearly demonstrated your desire to help raise the social status of Ghana; and by your contribution towards the Second Five-Year Development Plan and your desire to implement the agricultural proposal of the Plan, have shown clearly that you are ready to help develop the economy of this nation. These patriotic deeds of yours are worthy of praise and emulation.
The United Ghana Fanners’ Council has indeed justified its existence. Since it was established in 1953, it has never failed to bring about mutual understanding between the Government and the farmers of the country. Whenever necessary, it has brought the farmers’ needs and problems to the notice of the Government. And whenever the Government has looked for the support of the farmers, the Council has made it readily available. We appreciate the work that the United Ghana Farmers; Council is doing and that is why we have asked the Cocoa Marketing Board to make an annual grant to the Council of one hundred thousand pounds for its maintenance and in order to build at its national headquarters, a building to symbolise the Government’s recognition and appreciation of the good work of the council.
I should like to call upon all tile farmers of Ghana to give their whole-hearted support to the United Ghana Farmers’ Council so as to enable it to succeed in all its various activities. As the patron of the council, l shall do all l possibly can to guide and encourage the farmers towards a better and higher standard of living.
The Government has been considering the request of the farmers in the Ho-Kpandu district for the release of their guns. In fact, instructions were about to be given last week for the release of these guns. However, in view of certain reports which have reached us, the Government has decided to withhold action for the time being concerning the release of the guns. In the meantime, investigations are going on in respect of subversive activities of certain persons who are planning to disturb the peace of this area. Should these reports prove to be true, the Government will not only re-impose the ban on firearms, but will also take strong measures to insure peace in this Region.
And now I would like, if I may, to take this opportunity to refer to four important matters which affect us all in Ghana today. The first of these is the forthcoming population census which will be taken between the 20th March and the 20th April this year. It is of the utmost importance that the results of the census should be as accurate as possible, in order to ensure that the future policies of the Government are based on the most up-to-date information, not only as regards the population of Ghana, but also the details of this population in respect of the sex, age groups, employment and economic activity of the people in general. The purpose of the census is to enable the Government to have an accurate record of our manpower resources. This purpose can be achieved only if every citizen co-operates with the census officials in their task of making the census a success. When you go back to your own homes and villages, I hope, therefore, that you will carry this message to all those who have not been able to come here today. Every man, woman and child in Ghana must be counted. When the time comes, each one of you must get in touch with your nearest Census Official to make sure that you are counted.
The second matter which I wish to refer is the appearance in the country of forged Ghana currency notes and counterfeit coins. This is a very serious matter which, if left unchecked, will do great harm to the economy of the country. Those persons who are responsible for the counterfeit coins and notes know that these activities are serious criminal offences against the state. The Government is introducing legislation to make life imprisonment the penalty for counterfeiting. I expect all citizens to cooperate with the police in tracking down these criminals.
The third matter concerns the proposal to turn Ghana into a Republic. It is our belief that our Ghanaian traditional life and culture can find their proper expression in a republican form of government. I would like to take this for opportunity to assure our chiefs that chieftaincy will continue to be guaranteed and preserved under the proposed constitution and also that chiefs will continue to play an increasingly important role in the affairs of the country.
I would like to assure you also that, under a republican form of government, ownership of land and of other property will continue to be guaranteed.
Finally, you will recall that when I paid my last official visit to the Volta Region in October, I spoke of the integration of Ghana and French Togoland. I want to re-affirm that statement and to state further that by integration of Ghana and Togoland, we mean the removal of the artificial frontiers between Ghana I and French Togoland to enable the people of these two sister territories to be re- é united as they were in former days before the division of their territory by colonial powers. Integration of the people of the two territories is not territorial expansion; apart from being a human problem, it is moreover a purely family issue. If our brother and countryman, Sylvanus Olympio, is true to the political convictions which he held in 1947, namely, that the Ewes under French Trusteeship should be united with the then Gold Coast, which is now Ghana, in order to achieve the re-unification of the Ewes, then he would be the first to accept the proposal now for the integration of French Togoland with Ghana, which can be achieved through peaceful process based upon the will of the people.
My last thought: In the same way as plans are now being formulated for the formation of an all-African trade union movement, I trust that some day in the - concept of African unity, a federation of all African Farmers organisations shall emerge.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I now declare the 7th Annual National Delegates’ Conference of the United Ghana Farmers’ Council duly opened, and wish you successful deliberations.