The controversial guinea fowl investment by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) was raised yesterday at the vetting of a deputy minister-designate for Food and Agrriculture, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan.
A member of the appointments committee, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, asked the deputy-minister-designate about his opinion on the investment, which, according to him, had generated a furore in the country.
Dr Alhassan, who expressed his wish to have been spared that question, however justified it, describing it as a fantastic investment by the government to help reduce poverty in the northern sector of the country.
He regretted that officials of SADA had not done much to educate members of the public on the real money involved and the benefit that would come to the nation when the issue popped up in parliament during the consideration of the 2013 budget statement of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
According to him, the GH¢15 million which has so far been invested in the project is not part of the operational cost of SADA which amounts to GH¢30million but it is part of the GH¢200 million seed money quoted for all the viable investments to be carried out by SADA.
He told the committee that the GH¢15 million was a long term investment which includes industrial hatchery and breeding.
He explained that SADA’s operations were backed by law and that the authority decided to go into partnership with Ansongtaba Company, which was already into production of guinea fowl because of the strong belief that its production on a large scale would significantly help to reduce poverty in the north.
“The partnership was 40 per cent and 60 per cent and that Ansongtaba were to serve as the marketing outlet for the guinea fowl after the production,” he said
He noted that the nutritional value of guinea fowl was unparalled among birds and that the mass production of guinea fowls would not only guarantee income for guinea fowl farmers but also boost the health needs of Ghanaians.
Comparing the nutritional value of guinea fowls to that of fowls, Dr Alhassan said the meat of guinea fowl was far better than the domestic fowl, stressing that what was even more disturbing was the mass importation of chicken parts from abroad.
“These chicken parts from abroad are stored for five years or more before being imported into the country and that the taste of the chicken becomes flat before they are imported into the country”
When he was asked about the accusation by the minority that the NDC government had really performed badly in agriculture and that the agricultural sector had grown negatively under the NDC, the deputy-minister indicated that, that assertion might be true but the minority had been making mountains out of mole hills.
He, however, said that the performance in the agricultural sector could not be controlled because agriculture in Ghana was mainly rain fed and, therefore, it was the weather which determined how that sector performed.
The deputy minister, who is the MP for Mion in the Northern Region, also told the committee that he was proud to be a class mate of President Mahama at the Tamale Secondary School from 1971-1976 adding that the president had always believed in giving back to the society.
Vicky Hamah Dazzles
When the deputy minister-designate for Communications, Victoria Lakshimi Hamah, appeared before the committee, she was questioned on why she chose to practise Hinduism as her religion.
She confidently explained that, she first practised Eckankar and later ended up in Hinduism because of the religion’s recognition that animals are as important as human beings and that all human beings are equal stressing further that her switch to Hinduism made her to become a vegetarian.
On a substantive question on how she could use her office to stem the tide of Internet fraud or cyber fraud, which is gaining root amongst the youth in the country, she admitted the problem was a disturbing one, especially with the emergence of ICT.
She noted that there was the need for internet security, pointing out that Internet was posing a big security problem to the world because the bombing of the world trade centre in the US was eventually traced to communication through the Internet.
She said to avoid Internet fraud, there was the need for electronic signatures to be introduced so that any recipient of a message could verify the authenticity of the message as well as the identity of the sender of the message.
When the deputy minister-designate for Trade and Industry, Edwin Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, took his turn at the vetting, he spoke passionately about the need to protect Ghanaian entrepreneurs and businesses saying that the laws that did not allow importation of certain categories of goods into the country should be strictly enforced.
He said the Export Development, Investment and Agricultural Fund (EDIAF) would be well utilised to encourage local manufacturers.
He also advocated the setting up of cottage industries in the rural areas to provide jobs for people in the rural communities.
When the deputy minister-designate for Information and Media Relations, Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, also took his turn, he was questioned about his temperament and whether he would not send the whole government’s machinery into a ditch, he said he had learnt a lot from the demeanour and humility of the president and he was ready to emulate him.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr