Since independence, every government has launched one agricultural policy or the other based on different parameters and what they are to achieve. Governments have launched many agricultural initiatives including the popular Operation Feed Yourself, which did not last long, howbeit producing positive results. While some of these interventions were meant to increase the production of certain specific food crops or grains or cassava for industrial starch others were to introduce new varieties of food crops.
Currently, Ghana is in the midst of Planting for Food and Jobs initiative under which government is trying to encourage the able to go back to the land and plant for consumption and for industry. Attached to this project are incentives that will make it easier for those engaged farming to be supplied with good seeds and other needed inputs to produce for feeding and extra.
Ultimately, these interventions are to increase agricultural produce and entice those interested in agricultural processing or agri-business to move to the production centres or the farm gates and set up facilities that will add value to the locally produced foods by building cottage industries to offer employment to many living in the rural areas.
This and many other such initiatives have been launched in the past but how effective they have been have always been in dispute. While one party quotes figures as to tonnage of this or that crop harvested, the other party disputes. Interestingly even the national statistics gives different figures resulting in three very varied figures as to land acre planted and harvested or tonnage of fish harvested among many others.
Now this controversy will be finally put to rest, hopefully, when the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), begins a census of the agricultural sector next week.
That census will collect information from households and institutions and their involvement in agricultural activities.
These are the kind of critical information needed to better identify, prepare, implement and evaluate development projects aimed at enhancing agriculture in Ghana.
We agree with the ministry and the statistical service that this census is absolutely necessary as it provides planners with up-to-date and reliable agricultural statistics for national planning, programming and monitoring food security and livelihood programmes, among others across the country.
Apart from government, this necessarilyy is also of great value to ordinary citizens, especially traders, who can discern from the information which foodstuff is cheaper and at where in which season of the year.
Most importantly, the census will provide more up-to-date data on the structure of agriculture in the country as the analysed information is vital to the rebasing of our gross domestic product (GDP).
For the uninitiated, the data might not mean much but for the planners of the economy, knowing the inner details of how much of each food crop grown or which animals Ghanaians love to eat most will give national planners a look into the future and what to do to improve both farming and animal husbandry. This is one census that is absolutely necessary. We all must cooperate in this effort.