Some supporters of the former Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, say they have mobilised resources to obtain nomination forms for his candidacy in the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) upcoming flagbearer race.
According to the group, the former Minister has a proven record to lead the party, which is why they are rallying support for him.
NPP flagbearership race: Supporters pick form for Dr Afriyie Akoto
They specifically highlight the Planting for Food and Jobs policy as a game-changer in the Akufo-Addo government, and they believe that if given the opportunity, he will accomplish even more as a leader of the NPP and as President of the country.
“If he is given the nod, there will be no hunger in Ghana,” one of the supporters told JoyNews.
On January 10, Dr Akoto tendered his resignation letter to President Akufo-Addo.
At his campaign launch on March 13, the NPP stalwart reiterated his confidence as the one candidate who can win take the reins in the next election with the “immense support that I have received so far ever since I announced my intention to contest the flagbearership race.”
“I never knew there were so many who have quietly followed my progress in politics over the years and continue to believe in me,” he added.
The NPP, on Friday, May 26, opened nominations for the election of its Presidential Candidate for the 2024 General Election.
The one-month exercise kick-starts the processes for the final leg of the Party’s internal elections to elect a presidential candidate on Saturday, November 4, 2023, for the 2024 general election.
The exercise would end on June 24, 2023.
So far, Boakye Agyarko, a former Energy Minister, Kwabena Agyei Agyapong, former General Secretary of the Party and Francis Addai-Nimoh, a former MP for Mampong, and an economist, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku have all picked nomination forms to contest the Party’s presidential race.
Profile of Owusu Afriyie Akoto
Owusu Afriyie Akoto born 19 October 1949 is a Ghanaian agricultural economist and politician. He worked for more than a decade with the International Coffee Organization.
He is a member of the New Patriotic Party and was the Member of Parliament for the Kwadaso Constituency from 2009 to 2016.
In 2007 he was appointed the Chairman of the NPP manifesto committee and was the principal author of the Party’s Manifesto for the 2008 elections.
He was a cabinet minister in the Nana Akuffo-Addo administration and serves as the Minister of Food and Agriculture of Ghana.
Owusu Afriyie Akoto was born to Bafuor Osei Akoto, a prominent member of the pre-independence National Liberation Movement and also a chief linguist at the Manhyia Palace.
He had his tertiary education at the University of Ghana, Legon, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture. He then studied at Cambridge University, where he obtained a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree at Cambridge in 1985.
Afriyie Akoto is married with seven children. He is a member of the Catholic Church of Ghana.
Afriyie Akoto was employed by the International Coffee Organization in London, England. Among the positions he held were economist, senior economist, principal economist, and chief economic advisor.
He also served as a consultant to the World Bank (a United Nations agency) on soft commodities—namely, cocoa, coffee, and sugar. After working for over 18 years abroad, he returned to Ghana where from 1995 to 2008 he served as the CEO of Goldcrest Commodities Limited and Plantation Resources Limited.
Afriyie Akoto first contested the Kwadaso constituency seat in 2004 and retrieved 20 of the total votes cast by delegates. He lost to fellow political newcomer Josephine Hilda Addo, who won with 26 votes. Addo went on to win the constituency election in the 2004 general election.
Afriyie Akoto again contested the 2007 constituency primary and beat the incumbent. He served two terms as the Member of Parliament for Kwadaso from 2009 to 2016. While at Parliament, Afriyie Akoto was the Deputy Ranking Member for the Committee on Food and Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs. He was succeeded by Samiu Kwadwo Nuamah when he lost the NPP parliamentary primary in 2015.
In June 2015, Afriyie Akoto contested the constituency primary with the hope of securing enough votes to allow him to contest the constituency parliamentary election. Five other candidates, including Addo, a former Member of Parliament for the constituency, contested the election.
The eventual winner was Nuamah, who pulled 191 of the total votes cast. Afriyie Akoto obtained 95 of the total votes. In his concession speech, Afriyie Akoto promised to work together with Nuamah to maintain the parliamentary seat and asserted that Nuamah had won the seat on merit.
In Parliament, he held the positions of Deputy Ranking Member and subsequently the substantive Ranking Member for the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs until 2017.
In January 2017, President Nana Akuffo-Addo nominated Afriyie Akoto for the position of Minister of Food and Agriculture. He was approved the same month.
During his vetting, he made it known that investors from South Africa and the United States who had visited the Afram plains, Kintampo, and other places in the country were excited about the animal rearing opportunities those place offered and had expressed interest in investing in the sector.
As the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Afriyie Akoto has promised to increase the percentage of farmers who use improved seeds for farming, which as of June 2017 stood at eleven percent. He asserted that 85 percent of farmers still use traditional seeds, which reduces their yields.
He also made it known that the government will be collaborating with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute and the Grains Development Board to overcome the deficit in the supply of seeds for the Planting for Food and Jobs program.
In May 2017, President Akufo-Addo named Afriyie Akoto as one of 19 ministers who would form his cabinet. The names of the 19 ministers were submitted to the Parliament of Ghana and announced by the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Prof. Mike Ocquaye.
As a cabinet minister, Afriyie Akoto was part of the president’s inner circle and is to aid in key decision-making activities in the country.
In 2017 he was appointed the Minister for Food and Agriculture.
In this role he has spearheaded the design and implementation of the Government of Ghana’s popular and transformational agricultural flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ). Under the leadership of Hon. Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto Ghana has been transformed into the breadbasket of West.
In 2019, Ghana was ranked fourth on the African continent by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) in its Global Food Security Index (GFSI). In that year (2019) the sector grew strongly by 4.7% followed by 7.4% at peak of the covid in 2020 and 8.4% in 2021 – the highest annual performance in the Fourth Republic. This sterling performance compares with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme’s (CAADP) benchmark target of 6% growth of agriculture for the attainment of national food security
Maize production reached 3.4 million tonnes in 2021 from 1.7 million tonnes in 2016; and rice production nearly doubled to 1.2 million metric tonnes from 665,000 metric tonnes in 2016 under the PFJ.
Under his leadership an Act of Parliament established the Tree Crop Development Authority in 2020, to coordinate and promote the development of six tree crops – cashew, rubber, oil palm, coconut, mango and shea. At full development, these selected crops have the combined potential of generating an additional USD12 billion per annum to supplement the annual USD2 billion from cocoa.
He has also initiated a Bill in parliament for the establishment of the Grains Development Authority and has already prepare a memorandum for cabinet consideration of the Bill which will substantially increase loanable funds to agriculture and its value chains. Also in the pipelines are draft Cabinet memoranda for the establishment of Horticultural Development Authority and Poultry Development Authority
He oversaw the re-launch of the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme through which a total farm area of 56,343 hectares has been fully treated across the cocoa growing regions as of 30th September 2022. As a result of the success of the programme, thousands of farmers who had abandoned their cocoa farms due to the devastating effect of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease (CSSVD) have returned to their farms.
Since 2017, Hon. Dr. Akoto has directed substantial budgetary resources to the construction and rehabilitation of 12 irrigation schemes of which 6 are above 90% complete, five between 45% to 70% level of completion and Pwalugu dam currently at a level of 5%. Together, these irrigation projects will make available 31,415 hectares of land for all year-round crop production when completed.
Through his initiative, measures taken by Government to address major marketing problems in the agriculture sector includes the construction of 80 warehouses of 1000 metric tonne capacity each for food storage and to reduce post-harvest losses.
In his bid to accelerate the process of agricultural modernization, he, instituted several bilateral arrangements that resulted in the importation of assorted agricultural machinery including tractors, power tillers, planters, threshers, combine harvesters and hand-held equipment for smallholder farmers at a total of over $100 million. These farm equipment and machinery are being sold at subsidized rate of 40% to farmers and agro processors.
Dr. Akoto has implemented the construction of three greenhouse training centres with attached commercial unit at Dawhenya, Akumadan and Bawjiase for training youth in high-quality vegetable production. These vegetables are sold to high end shops such as Palace Mall, Shoprite, Starbites, KFC and Burger King in Tema, Accra and Kumasi.
For his transformational leadership, the Hon. Dr. Akoto has won several awards and appointments of recognition. In February 2019, AFRICAN SEEDS which is the intergovernmental Seed Agency of the African Union, conferred on him the title of SEED CHAMPION OF AFRICA.
In the same 2019, he was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Inter African Coffee Organisation (IACO), a pan-African organisation promoting the interest of coffee producers on the continent.
He is the immediate past Chairman of the ECOWAS Specialised Ministerial Technical Council for Agriculture (CTMS Agric) and, was unanimously appointed Chairman of the Steering Committee for the newly established Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana Cocoa Initiative.
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