March 15, 2013

National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members in Parliament yesterday became very angry when a minority member suddenly brandished a ball of kenkey and a finger of fried fish in parliament to buttress a point that the cost of living is skyrocketing because of the government’s incompetence and inefficiency to implement pragmatic policies that will have a direct bearing on the lives of the ordinary Ghanaian.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Nsuta-Kwamang Beposo, Kwame Asafu-Adjei, in his contribution to the debate on the 2013 budget statement, unexpectedly brought out a ball of kenkey and finger of fried fish (kyenam) from his briefcase to show to parliament that the virtual collapse of agriculture under the NDC administration had seriously affected prices of staple food in the country.
The MP, who is an agricultural expert, said now a ball of kenkey, a staple food for most ordinary Ghanaians, cost at least GH¢1 while in some areas in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and other big towns, a ball of kenkey was being sold for GH¢2.
He said he bought his kenkey from a popular kenkey ‘joint’ at Adabraka for GH¢2 while the little finger of fried fish he brought to parliament was sold to him at GH¢3.
“These times are very difficult times for ordinary Ghanaians on the streets who may have to spend say GH¢4 for a meal at the roadside and at the of the day, such a poor person will need GH¢15 or GH¢20 just to buy food for the day,” he lamented, demanding to know the direction in which the country was heading towards.
He pointed out that during the NPP regime, agriculture in the country boomed and prices of staple food were relatively stable.
He said the Kufuor government paid greater attention to commercialization, subsidization and mechanization of agriculture as well as development of infrastructure that had direct or indirect bearing on the growth of agriculture.
He said in countries where prices of food were cheaper, the standard of living was better.
“In Ghana currently, we have a hand-to-mouth situation where whatever you earn would have to be spent on food,” he said.
The NDC MPs, who were very angry with his contribution and the practical demonstration he made, doubted what the Nsuta-Kwamang MP was holding was real kenkey and dared him to eat it in parliament.
They also strongly challenged the real cost of the kenkey and fish and said that Hon Asafu-Adjei was not telling the truth in terms of the prices of staple food in the country.
Supporting the contribution of Hon Asafu-Adjei, the NPP MP for Kwadaso, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said for the past five years, real growth in agriculture had been collapsing.
“From 7.4% in 2008 to 5.3% in 2010 and then in 2011, the growth almost stunted at 0.8% and picked up to 2.6% in 2012,” Hon Afriyie Akoto said.
He noted that the agric sector was catching what he described as a ‘Dutch disease’ because the poor growth in the sector lagged sadly behind the performance of the overall economy.
He said things would get worse, with attention now being turned on Ghana’s booming oil industry.
He said farmers and fishermen continued to suffer from low productivity because of inadequate supply of improved inputs- seeds, fertilizer, agro-chemicals and pre-mix fuel, as well as lack of access to ready market and credit facilities.
According to him, the 2013 budget did not equip the country with sufficient tools to arrest the stagnation of the food and agricultural sector while the Dutch disease was staring the country in the face in view of the booming oil sector.
The NDC MP for Mion, Dr Yakubu Alhassan, did not agree with his NPP colleagues, saying that under the NDC government, there had been improvement in the agricultural sector, with increase in rice and shea nut production, adding that the minority in parliament should not politicize issues pertaining to agriculture because it formed the backbone of the Ghanaian economy.