Progressive Peoples' Party Parliamentary candidate Eva Lokko has asked government to focus on simple and practical ideas that can make an immediate impact on the lives of Ghanaians.
She said too often government draws up big plans and elaborate projects that are however difficult and time-consuming to implement.
She was part of a panel of four politicians addressing the widening social and economic inequality gap in Ghana as observed by United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The country’s representative Susan Ngongi said in her three-year stay in Ghana, she has observed that there is a greater concentration on politics than development.
A Ghana Poverty and Inequality Report, commissioned by the UNICEF, covering a period of 20 years,found that the richest Ghanains consume 6.8 times more food than the poorest.
It found that while around one- third of all national consumption is attributed to the wealthiest 10%, the poorest 10% citizens consume just 1.72%.
It concluded that there is the need for policy to address this gap. Discussing this need, a special Ghana Connect event organized in connection with UNICEF empanelled four political representatives from four parties.
NDC policy analyst Peter Otokunor, Vice-Chairman PNC Henry Asante and CPP Director of Education, Ideology and Philosophy Justice Hornaku.
The discussion ranged from job creation, inclusive development, social protection and agriculture.
Eva Lokko was concerned that the NDC policy analyst talked about the government's plans to shift agriculture from subsistence to commercial farming.
The government representative said there has been heavy investment in irrigation projects across the country.
“We are looking at building agricultural estates” Otokunor said. He explained that it is a programme to allow students on vacation to work on farms, learn the business of food production and earn an income.
Peter Otokonor also pointed out that government is encouraging the use of Greenhouse technology where crops and plants are grown under a controlled environment.
greenhouse is a building with a covering of glass, plastic or fiberglass that allows heat to build up inside the building.
Peter Otokunor said a batch of youths who were trained under the Youth in Enterprise Support programme have received funding to adopt greenhouse technology in farming
But Eva Lokko expressed frustration at what she believes is more talk and less action in commercial farming. The politician said farmers should be helped to use crude irrigation methods in the meantime when it is immediately needed while government looks for money to do irrigation projects she deemed expensive
“All these theories Let’s be real and practical all these theories are not getting us anywhere. We know how to do irrigation. We know how to do crude irrigation”
She wants government to help farmers use PVC pipes as the immediate method of irrigation.
“Sometimes we want to do big things before we do small things. You don’t wait for people to die before you wake them up. We are not Jesus. We don’t have the power”, she said.
The CPP Director of Education, Ideology and Philosophy Justice Hornaku also indicated that if his party is to win power in November 2016, it will be committed to mechanized agriculture by creating centers where subsidized farm equipment will be made available to farmers.
He stressed that a 38% interest rate charged by some rural banks for agriculture financing is a major disincentive to farmers. A CPP approach would be loans given at reasonable rates, he said.
He blamed neo-liberal policies of successive governments as the cause for a weak agricultural production base.
Taking his turn, PNC Henry Asante also explained the his party would focus on food processing. He said it is a sector that can create jobs because it requires division of labour.
He explained that in food processing the production plants must be set up close to its raw materials.