The Foundation of Generational Thinkers, FOGET, has pointed out that government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme stands the risk of failure if urgent steps are not taken to protect the available agricultural land.
FOGET, a self-empowerment non-governmental organization, NGO, in a statement in Accra during the week pointed out that the rate at which chiefs and family heads are selling agricultural land for construction of real estates will defeat government’s laudable programme to create employment.
According to the foundation, in a statement signed by its president Prosper Afetsi, it noticed with concern the rapid and unregulated expansion in residential facilities in the major cities and neighbouring communities. They cited Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi especially and other regional capitals as the centre of these activities.
‘What is happening is that these residential properties are not replacing existing ones and neither are they story buildings enabling many families to live on a plot of land. The phenomenon we are now witnessing is that of individual families buying the land and building single beautiful estate houses for a man and his family. This has inadvertently also created a mass of homeless people who cannot afford these homes.
‘Though these beautiful structures are a testimony to our national socio-economic progress, it is unfortunately creating a new class of disadvantaged and landless families who otherwise would have been active participants in the novel Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
‘The excision of these lands means less and less land is being made available for agricultural purposes ultimately leading to higher unemployment figures and a reduction in agricultural produce,’ the statement added.
Continuing, Mr. Afetsi pointed out that recent agricultural statistics has revealed that Ghana is not producing enough food to feed herself leading to increasing import of such basic foodstuffs as tomatoes, plantain and kontomire among others from neighbouring countries is an evidence that all is not well with the sector.
To therefore reduce the acreage under cultivation in favour of buildings is an unfortunate situation which central government, in collaboration with metropolitan/municipal and district assemblies to check this unfortunate development immediately.
FOGET’s suggestion is that the district planning authorities must in conjunction with the chiefs and land owners demarcate the existing lands and zone them into residential, agrarian and industrial areas and the laws must be strictly patrolled and enforced.
‘We are in a peculiar situation which demands that government and the assemblies must be up and doing if it really wants to reduce unemployment through the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
‘Government must act timeously to protect and expand this programme which is the surest way to give voice to Ghanaians who will be lifted out of poverty,’ the statement added.
Concluding, the foundation appealed to government to mount a serious sensitization campaign to educate citizens about her socio-economic plans in the immediate, medium and long term for the improvement of life in the country.