The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) has called for a national conversation on “widespread” destruction of the country’s farmlands by illegal miners and real estate developers.
The Union said large swathes of farmlands and water bodies in mining regions were being destroyed by the activities of illegal miners whiles fertile lands were being developed into settlements.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Edward Kareweh, General Secretary, GAWU, said the country must be concerned about the development, adding that failure to address the issue could have dire consequences on food security soon.
“What is happening in the agriculture sector is very dangerous for today and for the future. The advent of destructive ‘galamsey’ which is widespread throughout the country is all about agriculture destruction.
“The soils far away from the ‘galamsey’ pits are also poisoned by the mercury and the poisonous chemicals that is used in the extraction of the gold,” he said.
Mr Kareweh said the rate at which arable lands were being developed into settlements portend danger for accessibility of lands for agricultural purposes in future.
“When you travel from here to Cape Coast, you see buildings springing all over. If we don’t put measures in place and plan well, a time would come that we may have to demolish buildings before we could cultivate crops,” he said.
Touching on the President’s State of the Nation Address, which was delivered to Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Kareweh said the Union was not convinced that the investment in the agriculture as indicated by the President, would improve the sector.
President Nana Addo Dankwa-Akufo Addo on Wednesday told Parliament that the Government had constructed 65 warehouses, procured $29.9 million worth of machinery to improve mechanisation among other investments.
The GAWU said the President’s assertion that massive investments had been channelled into the agriculture sector did not reflect the reality on the ground.
“It is very difficult to go with the President that agriculture is doing well when he did not give us the figures and the reality on the ground is also not supporting because prices of foodstuff have skyrocketed, and food inflation has been among the highest.
“If you pick crop by crop, you will realise that in all of them, we are in serious deficit in terms of output,” Mr Kareweh said.
The GAWU urged the Government to conduct a comprehensive audit of the sector as well as policies that had been implemented over the years to diagnose the magnitude of the challenges in the sector.
The Union also called for stringent measures to halt the smuggling of farm inputs, including fertilisers to neighbouring countries to improve accessibility and affordability of inputs to local farmers.
The average share of the agriculture sector to Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 19.1 per cent in the first half of 2020 to 21.3 per cent for the same period in 2021.
The sector employs about 60 per cent of the population and accounts for 65 per cent of the country’s land area.