Manna From Ivory Coast

The revelation by Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, that Ghana imported 15,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans into the country to meet the shortfall in her export obligations is not a palatable piece of news.

It is suggestive of the magnitude of challenges the country is facing. Ivory Coast shares similar ecological features with us, but now sells cocoa beans to us: that is enough to undeniably show that there is something we are not doing right at the policy level.

The story becomes even more serious when juxtaposed against the fact that in some years past we surpassed that country in terms of volume of harvest. Those years are gone, belonging to a different political administration which foresight and visions are not shared by those who have taken their turn at the helm today.

Interestingly, the immediate past Agriculture Minister during whose tenure the sector suffered arguably its worst moments in terms of cocoa production and agriculture in general, remains unsurpassed in his ability to spew untruths and propaganda. It would appear that at the time that he was expected to be consulting his directors and the many agencies under his ministry about the way forward, he was engaged in disseminating lies about the opposition as though that was the best way to get the country out of her economic morass. If he had raised the red flag about the sinking fortunes of agricultural production instead of painting a positive picture, perhaps something could have been done.

What did the previous government do to register that record harvest? We are told about the deliberate move, a policy decision as it was, to augment cocoa output in the country through well thought-out programmes like spraying cocoa farms to rid them of growth-inhibiting pests and paying commensurate money to farmers for their cocoa, among other morale-boosting measures. This was done regardless of the political affiliation of farmers – the political affiliation method unfortunately being used in the distribution of fertilizer today.

The outcome was fantastic, registering what for a long time since that feat a political laurel for members of that administration. When such feats are chalked those responsible can justifiably and morally flaunt them as they do today during their campaign rounds. Not so however, when lies are peddled – the module of propagandists even when the situation is dire.

Why wouldn’t the present government do likewise so a similar feat can be registered? The template is available for replication in the interest of the country, especially since it is not patented.

The creeping Dutch disease in our country is something we must be wary about, lest we are completely consumed by an economic ailment, the fallouts of which can hardly be stemmed without enormous cost to our miserable national purse.

We have heard about how the imports from Ivory Coast are not limited to cocoa beans but sometimes some food crops. It is heartbreaking that a country which has just come out of a devastating war would be feeding us as it were. Misplaced priorities in the midst of hemorrhaging corruption can do worst things to a country. Good policies and governance can do the contrary as they have in Ivory Coast.