THERE was heated debate in Parliament yesterday over high- profile people that were beneficiaries of the 932 tractors imported into the country for farmers in 2008.
Some of the names that emerged in the beneficiary list were Mr Moses Asaga, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Nabdam; Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC); Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the MP for Nadowli West, and Mr Mahama Ayariga, the Minister of Information and Media Relations.
Alban Bagbin and Moses Asaga feature on the list
The submission of the list followed a question posed earlier by Mr Daniel Kweku Botwe, the MP for Okere, to the Minister of Food and Agriculture seeking to know the beneficiaries of the 932 tractors and accessories imported from India by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in 2008.
The tractors imported were 200 farm tractors, 132 Mahindra 605 Di tractors, 100 Mahindra 705 Di tractors, 350 model 5303 John Deere tractors and 150 model 5403 John Deere tractors.
Following Mr Botwe’s question, some MPs sought to find out from the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, the criteria that were used to select the beneficiaries and the nature of some of the addresses, which suggested that the tractors were given to people in areas where no farming took place.
In an answer to Mr Botwe’s question on the criteria used, Mr Humado told the House that applications were received, which informed the distribution through 89 Agric Mechanisation Services Centres (AMSECs) in districts throughout the country.
‘I am informed that the criteria used in the distribution were based upon application from a farmer or an institution, and this application would have to emanate from the district and must receive a cover note or recommendation by the district agricultural officer.
‘These were sent to the regional agricultural officers or directors, who collated the request for the region and the regional requests were sent to the national level and referred to the Director of the Agricultural Engineering Services Directorate,’ he said.
Mr Botwe argued that MoFA needed a policy direction to import and distribute the tractors to farmers through the AMSEC.
According to Mr Humado, one of the objectives for the importation was the formation of the AMSEC ‘because it is assumed small-holder farmers, had enough money to buy a tractor.
‘So individuals with business acumen and confirmed by the district officers would apply for a number of tractors and implements, which informed the setting up of the AMSECs, so that poor farmers can just walk to the centre and pay for the services, other than they themselves buying the tractors,’ he said.
The Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, wanted to know from which districts Mr Mahama Ayariga, whose address appeared as Office of the President in the list, the Azoka group in Tamale and Mr Asiedu Nketia, who used the address of SSNIT Flats, Community 13, Sakumono, had applied.
In his response, Mr Humado said, ‘I am informed that the AMSEC of the MP for Bawku was established in the Bawku municipality.’
With the other ones, he explained, ‘You can be in Accra and use your Accra address to apply for a tractor and send it to your home town.’
Saying it would be misleading to do the regional distribution in view of the addresses used, the minister said he was not in a position to answer for Azoka and Mr Asiedu Nketiah.
On the recovery rate for the cost of the tractors, as posed by the MP for Shai-Osudoku, Mr David Tetteh Assumeng, Mr Humado said 60 per cent had so far been received, while efforts were still being made to recover the rest.
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