The government has been urged to use its purchasing power to create markets for the country’s local produce.
“The government buys more than any other person or institution in the country and, therefore, it has the power to authorise its agencies to buy local produce once they are available, instead of spending hard cash to import them,” he said.
He said the government could turn things around, far more than was being experienced now,for the benefit of the large majority of the people and indicated that a Dr Nduom government would ensure that the country took full advantage of its potential.
It is estimated that about 54.5 per cent of Ghana’s landmass, optimal agricultural production in the NSEZ, which covers five administrative regions, can produce enough food to feed the entire country, and the surplus can be exported to rake in much needed foreign exchange to boost the strength of the weakening cedi.
But the country’s import bill for rice alone stands at more than $500 million. Ghana imports the cereal which has become one of the most highly sought-after farm produce in many countries across the world, including Japan, Thailand, China and the United States of America.
It also imports vegetables such as tomatoes and onions from Burkina Faso and plantain from neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
It is estimated that the country’s food import expenditure is in the range of a minimum of US$1.5 billion per annum. This unfortunate situation is against the backdrop that some eight million hectares of agriculture-friendly arable lands continue to waste away in the Northern Savanna Ecological Zone (NSEZ).
That trend, Dr Nduom said, would be reversed in the interest of the economy and its people under a PPP government.
He cited as an example the rule in his chain of hotels that makes it a must for managers to buy locally produced rice and other foodstuffs for cooking “and I can tell you this is working.”
“It is creating many opportunities for the farmers we deal with and they are happy. So if for nothing at all, my example could serve as a pilot which can be built upon because it can work.”
On jobs for the massing youth, he said making agriculture attractive again would automatically create jobs for the youth.
“If the farms are vibrant and the produce has market, the many youth who flock to the urban capitals in search of greener pastures will have no reason to move from a place where there is work to the cities where jobs cannot be guaranteed,” he said.
On a daily basis, dozens of people from particularly the northern part of the country come to the capital city and do not go back. This trend has resulted in the hundreds of young people found on the streets selling yam, onions and tomatoes.
The high incidence of ‘Kayayei’ is also a result of lack of jobs for girls in the northern part of the country and many other regions.
But Dr Nduom is optimistic that should the government use its purchasing power to boost agriculture and industry, more opportunities will be created for the masses who crave for jobs to make a living.
Studies by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have revealed that many of the youth are into armed robbery and other criminal activities because they do not have jobs and have been influenced basically by peer pressure.
They also noted that they would prefer working to make a living to risking their lives through crime to make ends meet.
According to Dr Nduom, presidents have power and, therefore, he would use that power, when granted the opportunity, to help improve the lives of the people and to restore the country to its former glory.