The General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Edward Kareweh, has said a strong linkage between agriculture and manufacturing can create the necessary synergies to transform the Ghanaian economy.
“We need serious thinking on how to create the integration and synergy between agric and manufacturing.
“We should know that manufacturing is an extension of agric because manufacturing is processing, and we need to process agric produce before it can reach the final consumption stage,” he stated in an interview on the role of agriculture in manufacturing ahead of the GRAPHIC BUSINESS/Stanbic Bank breakfast meeting today.
He noted that the primary activity of manufacturing was agriculture in the sense that the inputs needed by industry for processing mostly came from agriculture. There is the need to develop both sectors bearing in mind the linkage.
Mr Kareweh said it was not just an issue of a desire to produce for
Agric and manufacturing in retrospect
Mr Kareweh deduced that Ghana had had experiences of integrated development approach such that even in the first years of Ghana’s independence, the seven-year development plan of Dr Kwame Nkrumah was anchored on agriculture; the raw materials came from agric to feed the import substitution industry that was developed.
Again, in the 1970s, there was the rapid and rigorous development policy, Operation Feed Yourself, that brought about a strong integration between agric and manufacturing.
However, he indicated that the advent of globalisation, liberalisation and all the free market systems that the country had adopted had reached unacceptable levels and widened the gap between agric and manufacturing.
He stated that consequently, Ghana currently produced to export raw produce and for domestic consumption, therefore the major integrated part to produce for industry was not included in the policy arrangement, and that was the bane of our underdevelopment and unemployment among the youth.
Experts say the inability of the government to support the sector has resulted in the acute problem of unemployment in the country, particularly youth and a phenomeon which can trigger a social upheaval.
In their opinion, the concentration of growth has been on the low job-creating capital-intensive extractives and some automated service activities, while agriculture and manufacturing which had the high potential of creating jobs had been stagnating.
Unlocking agric potential
The Executive President of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana, Mr Anthony Selorm Morrison, said agric had a major role to play in unlocking and expanding the economic fortunes of Ghana.
“There needs to be an increased efficient policy of public spending, improve the regulatory framework to attract more private investment into the sector and ensure sustainable financing which has been a challenge,” he said in an interview.
Mr Morrison indicated that as the country sought to promote manufacturing using agric as a tool, it was important to find out what challenges persisted in the sector and deal with them.
To ensure availability of raw materials to feed industries, he stressed that measures should be taken to remove policies that do not promote or encourage manufacturing and agriculture.
“Why do we allow imports, Why do we just export all our raw materials without adding value to them when we know that we can have the advantage if we do so! he asked. — GB