Planting for Food and Jobs: Another failure in the waiting

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 Source: Richard Sarpong

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Our elders has a saying that, "if you tend to forget the sound of the drum of your chief, you certain get lost in the masses". This saying is exactly the case in Ghana today. I would not want to go into that much because in my previous article titled, "Ghana, an agro-economy; a joke in the Anus”, talks about it all. But we cannot eat our own cake and have it as a nation. There is a looming danger awaiting us as a country in our quest to secure a sustainable agricultural export and food security through government's programme of "planting for food and jobs".

This policy was highly welcomed just like the first child of a married couple who has been in need of a baby after decades of marriage. I believe you can imagine how joyful it was? To make a confession, I was the happiest man to have heard government's introduction of such a development tool likewise many others who have great interest in the forward March of the nation's agric sector. But unfortunately, the success of this national development tool is very bleak. Yes, even more than bleak!!

I am by this piece advising the various stakeholders and the ministry in charge that sector to wake up to a sunset call from the very persons they intend using to achieving the purpose of this programme;

I mean the agricultural College graduates in Ghana. We are more than disappointed in the way and manner the entire programme is being handled.

To me and of course my colleagues, this project will be one of the many "castles we have built in the air" as a country if care is not taken. The politicians in affairs must open their eyes wide, their ears wide open like a mouse on a journey to steal some dried fish in mother's kitchen. I simply mean they must listen.

Come to think of it, there are only 5 agricultural colleges in Ghana

(Kwadaso, 2 Ohawu, Ejura, Damongo and Kpong Tamale). Surprisingly, these five colleges combined could only produce less than 1000 graduates yearly. Comparatively, our colleagues of other institutions are over 4000 graduates annually. To make a meaning, the direct employment of Agric college graduates into the ministry of Food and Agric (MoFA) was halted during the 2010/11 academic period. Up till now, graduates produced by these colleges over the years are less than 2000 in number and even with this, some of us have been absorbed by the private sector. Our call for government employing us over these years has fallen of death ears but we kept on pressing only to be told about a certain planting for Food and Jobs to absorb all agric college graduates since the period of cancellation to direct job market. Like I said earlier, it was more than good news. The many friends I spoke to were very happy and shown great interest to see the New NPP government willingness to have our dreams come through.

However, the very people who were so enthusiastic have now given up.

We have lost interest. We feel neglected. The hope of seeing the sunlight again as graduates keeps hindering. We say it's enough!!

In government's own wisdom to make us happy again, they have decided enroll agric college graduate unto the same payroll like an SHS leaver under the Youth Employment Agency. This is to me sickening. It kills and dump my spirit to have even chose to enter to an agric college.

Whiles our colleagues from other colleges with the same certificate or qualifications are paid salaries, government chose to pay us allowances. A peanut of ghc 350.00. This is unacceptable!! How much is even National Service allowance?

It took us three years like a teacher and nursing trainee to acquire our diploma. We may even have undertaken many courses than they did.

It takes someone a 62 course study to be able to graduate an agric college diploma in Ghana, this is minus attachments and project works.

So what makes government believe it is so wise to absorb other trainees unto its payroll every year with a net monthly salary of not less than Ghc 800 and agricultural trainees for GHC 350 allowances? Is that we don't matter in this country as graduates? Or the government doesn't need our services? Could it also be that, our services as agric extension officers make no meaning to the socio-economic growth of Ghana?

I need answers because I can't think of it at all.

I hereby urge the minister in charge of Agriculture as matter of urgency revise their note on their decision to put us on YEA payroll and give us what is deserving. I know over 100 persons who have been given their appointment letters to start work but are still reluctant to do the job, the few ones who have started only knows what their hidden agendas are. The minister of agric must eschew any form of false hope and advise the president on the real issues on the ground or else, this flagship programme will be a "nine day wonder".

The mannerism of we the people the government intend to use to achieve this purpose gives a clear intent of failure if government refuses to listen to us. Like the adage goes, "we don't blow a trumpet on empty stomach". We are determined and committed to make Ghana a great nation. We are not asking for much, government must put us a same payroll like other college and diploma graduates. "What is good for the goose is good for that gander".

A gossip from an insider. I am the devil I want you to know but I guess I am better than the angel you don't know.

The one who has ears must listen!!

The writer:

Richard Sarpong

(An agric college graduate)

Email: risarp@gmail.com

Columnist: Richard Sarpong