Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto is the Food and Agriculture Minister-nominee for the Nana Addo-led NPP government which assumed office on January 7th, 2017. He is the immediate past Member of Parliament for Kwadaso in Ashanti region and served as the Minority Spokesperson on Agriculture throughout the period (2009-2019). This could explain why he was the President’s choice for the Food and Agric Ministry when he released his first batch of ministerial nominees.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie appeared before the Parliament Appointment Committee on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 for vetting. At the vetting session, Afriyie-Akoto gave out so many information about himself, education and career as he answered questions from his Curriculum Vitae which was previously submitted to the committee. He also outlined the various strategies he would employ if approved as the Food and Agric Minister in other to bring about growth and improvement in the sector.
From his revelations and insights, we were able to sieve out very interesting facts about Owusu Afriyie-Akoto as well as his plans for Ghanaians as far as food and agriculture is concerned. At the end of the day, you would be left to judge if he is good enough for the position. Read on! Enjoy!!
Owusu Afriyie-Akoto’s Agricultural Plans
Afriyie-Akoto pointed out to the appointment committee during his vetting that, the past administration have not been investing adequately in agriculture; an attitude that has resulted in production decline in the sector. He stated specifically that the public allocation to the sector which used to be at almost over 4% of the budget, declined to 1.1% under the past government.
Dr. Akoto indicated that the new government is going to invest enormously in agriculture, to enable it attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into the sector. Explaining this point, he said that foreign investors have not been patronizing Ghana’s agricultural sector because there are no developed infrastructure in place to bring about meaningful yield and returns. He also indicated that preparations towards hosting some foreign investors in this regard have already kicked off. Read what he said:
Last week, a group came from South Africa, I sent them out to the field to Afram plains, to Kintampo and other places and they came back very excited based on the assurances that I gave them that this government is going to support the sector with infrastructure, roads and so on and all that, and they are coming back with a boat load of cattle, young cattle, sheep and goat.
Not only that, people have come from America, they are very interested to invest based on what they have heard that we are doing and determined to do, he added.
In addition, the former MP for Kwadaso Constituency promised to review the government cocoa scholarship programme. This is because; there have been complaints that the scholarship programme which is meant to provide free education for deserving children of rural cocoa farmers has been favouring more urban dwellers instead.
Reactions – Recommendations and Criticisms
There have been claims that the Minister-designate is in support of Genetically Modified (GMO) Foods which according to the critics is deceptively embedded in the Plan Breeders Bill which is currently on the Parliament’s table for approval.
Afriyie-Akoto’s critics are of the opinion that he intends to promote GMO if made the Food and Agriculture Minister. Among critics is the Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG), a grassroots food advocacy movement who had earlier petitioned the Parliament’s Appointment Committee to disqualify Mr Afriyie-Akoto over his stand on the issue. According to the FSG, the use of genetically modified seeds have long-term effects on the health of consumers and quality of the soil and therefore should never be encouraged.
Dr. Akoto however debunked the claims, saying that he was totally misunderstood by his critics. He explained that he was only talking about improved seeds which certainly gives more yield than the local ones and never GMOs. Making reference to the ‘obaatampa’ breed, Afriyie-Akoto said he has confidence in the researches so far conducted by Ghanaian scientists and has no need of introducing genetically modified seeds.
5 Interesting Facts about Afriyie-Akoto
1. He is a farmer
Never mind his always appearing in suit; Dr Akoto is a real farmer! He own plantations at Manso Nkwanta in Ashanti and is the CEO of Plantation Resources Company Limited.
2. He is well-read
Dr. Owusu Afriyie is an Agric Economist and holds certificates from various recognised local and foreign universities. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ghana, Legon. He further obtained his Master of Science and Doctorate Degree in Agriculture Economics from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
At the lower levels of education, Dr. Owusu Afriyie attended the St. Joseph Basic School, Ash-Town. He later proceeded to the Opoku Ware Senior High School, where he sat his ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Levels examinations.
3. He has served in International Organisations
Dr. Owusu Afriyie was the Chief Economic Advisor to the International Coffee Organisation, London, England, under the United Nations for 17 years; from 1982-1999.
4. He owns one of the Largest Cocoa-buying Companies in Ghana
Dr. Akoto is the founder of Goldcrest Commodities, a commodity trading company, which is the third largest cocoa buying company in the country. He also owns Plantations Resources Limited, which has coffee, cocoa and oil palm plantations.
5. His father formed the National Liberation Movement (NLM)
Do you know that Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto is one of the sons of Baffour Osei Akoto, a popular politician and traditional leader who served as Senior Linguist under three Ashanti Kings? Baffour Osei Akoto was a staunch anti-Nkrumahist who formed the National Liberation Movement (NLM) – the parent party of today’s New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Forget the all-black hair; Dr. Afriyie is not as young as you may be thinking! Born in 1949, he will soon clock 68, and is married with eight children.
Now, let us know – Is Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto the right person to head the Food and Agriculture Ministry? Your opinions are very much valued.