The Ninth Annual National Delegates' Conference; Conference Of The United Ghana Farmers'
Kumasi, March 26, 1962.
MR. CHAIRMAN, COMRADE FARMERS,
I salute you all, and congratulate you most heartily on the Ninth Anniversary of the United Ghana Farmers’ Council which you are celebrating today. I am glad to be with you this morning, as you meet in session, to discuss ways and means of providing for the welfare of your Council and its members, and the prosperity of Ghana.
The United Ghana Farmers’ Council, which we established in 1953, has fully justified its existence, and has been able to rally the farmers of this country behind the Government, in mutual confidence and understanding.
The problems facing us in the agricultural sector of our economy are numerous and formidable, and the Party and Government expect that you, the farmers of Ghana, will give us every assistance in solving these problems. I am confident that this assistance and support will be readily forthcoming.
Our basic and fundamental need is to increase as rapidly as possible, the production and productivity and yield of the agricultural industry. We are now pursuing vigorously a policy of industrialization, and in a few years time, we can expect to see a growing number of factories and industrial projects throughout the country. This industrial development must, however, be paralleled by Increasing productivity in agriculture. For, as productivity increases, the farmer should have an increasing surplus to offer in exchange for manufactured goods.
Moreover, as production and productivity grow, the proportion of the population engaged in food production should fall, thus making labour available for industry. Our plans for industrialisation will therefore depend, to a great degree on the vigour and the productivity of our farming operations throughout the country.
We look to our farmers to provide food in sufficient quantities, for the people to eat. We cannot tolerate the position which exists today regarding the imports of food. The latest statistics show that we are importing every year into Ghana over twenty million pounds worth of food. It has been estimated that, if the present trend continues, we shall, by 1970, have to import nearly eight million pounds worth of food to feed the rising population. Food imports amounted to nearly one fifth of all imports into Ghana in 1960. Many of the foodstuffs which are imported could have been produced in Ghana. You will realise therefore that you farmers of Ghana have a great task before you. You must help to stop this unnecessary waste of the country’s resources for the benefit of foreign interests. This is a challenge to you.
The Government’s agricultural policy is designed to accelerate a break- through in agricultural production, and to provide a sound basis for the establishment of food industries throughout the country. Surveys are being carried out for the establishment of large state farms, and agricultural settlements in various parts of the country. Foreigners who come to Ghana always wonder at the sight of large areas, apparently useful for farming, which are left uncultivated, while the country imports such a large proportion of its food from abroad.
Mr. Chairman and Comrades, we must put to an end as quickly as possible, this sad paradox in our agricultural development. I can see in my mind’s eye, vast areas of cultivated farms with mile after mile of produce: com, cassava, guava, oranges, pineapples and other food crops. That is the type of Ghanaian agriculture we desire. That is the type of agriculture we must and will develop.
There is no reason why we should not produce in abundance, and become an exporting country in agriculture foodstuff.
I have recently given directions that all the agricultural stations now run by the Ministry of Agriculture throughout the country should be turned into state farms, and re-organised so as to concentrate more on the production of food for the country.
The United Ghana Farmers’ Council has shown in many ways that it can be relied upon by the state to pursue vigorously the duties set before it. When it was decided last year that the Council and its agricultural cooperative bodies should be entrusted with the task of buying the country’s cocoa crops, I must confess that I had my misgivings and doubts of your ability to undertake the job. The responsibility was great, and a failure in the enterprise might have spelt disaster for us all. In the face of extreme difficulties, the Council has successfully carried out the operation entrusted to it, and the purchase of the record cocoa has been carried out in a most efficient and orderly manner. I must congratulate the United Ghana Farmers Council, and all farmers of the country, and all those who assisted in this operation, for this remarkable achievement.
Let me, however, sound a note of warning. You must find ways and means of preventing some dishonest secretary-receivers from defrauding farmers of their cocoa by short weight. This is a matter which must receive your most serious consideration; for some secretary-receivers like to enrich themselves at the expense of the farmer by recording less weight of cocoa for the seller than the actual weight registered by the scale.
Later, the secretary-receiver collects the surplus weight from the individual bags of cocoa and he, without owning a cocoa farm, gets cocoa to sell in other people’s pocketing the ill-gotten money. This shameful practice must stop; for it stains your otherwise unblemished record.
You must also continue to be as vigilant in the future as you have been this year. Do not allow yourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security and optimism. The rules which you adopted in this year for the purchase of cocoa must be improved upon and tightened next year so that the operations will be even more successful in the future.
When in 1959 we launched the Second Five-Year Development Plan, the farmers of Ghana voluntarily agreed to a deduction of twelve shillings per load of 601b. from the current cocoa price, and paid the proceeds into the development fund. This was a noble sacrifice, which was appreciated by the whole country. You have recently given another example of your patriotism and devotion to the cause of Ghana’s progress by your decision to forgo the deduction of six shillings per load of your cocoa over the next ten years. This act of faith in Ghana, and this positive assistance and contribution to our economic and industrial struggle will not go unrecorded in the history of our times. I take this opportunity, therefore, to express on behalf of the Government and the Party, my sincere appreciation to the farmers of Ghana for this courageous and generous sacrifice and patriotism which we hope many will be persuaded to emulate.
Recently, the Government has enacted legislation which will protect farmers from the exploitation which they have suffered so long. I refer to the Farm Land (Protection) Act and the Rent (Stabilisation) Act. No more will farmers be deprived of their farm because the land on which their farm is situated had been previously acquired by another person. Neither will farmers be forced to pay exorbitant rents; for their farming land has now been fixed by law at five Shillings per acre per annum.
The imposition of special levy on cocoa by Local Councils or by any organisation or person should be abolished; and if it should be done at all it should be with the consent of farmers in the area. A week ago, I inaugurated in Accra, the Conference of all African Farmers’ Organisations. It is indeed gratifying to me that the idea I proposed to you in 1960 at your Seventh Annual Conference held at Kpandu, has borne such fruit. I am sure that this All-African Union of Farmers which you have launched will become an important link in the chain of African unity. I was so impressed by the effort of the farmers in organizing this Conference of unity at Legon.
African farmers have seen the light of unity. So have African Trade Unionists. What about African co-operators? I am sure they also have an obligation and duty to rally themselves in unity and organise themselves into a continental union of African cooperatives in the overall interest of themselves and of African unity.
The need for a strong political union of African states is so clear and inescapable that we must bend all our will to ensure its realization. There is no alternative, if we are to survive.
Mr. Chairman, comrades and Friends: I have great pleasure in declaring this Ninth Annual National Delegates Conference of the United Ghana Farmers’ Council open. I wish your deliberations all success.