Meeting with Tony Blair: Agric Minister’s food production figures fact-checked

Date:

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, on February 3, 2022, engaged with potential investors at a breakfast meeting in Accra. The one-day event, organised by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, was meant to woo investors into Ghana’s agriculture sector.

The event was attended by the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Ghana’s Agric minister claimed in his speech that, over the last five years, the agriculture sector had tremendously improved.

He attributed the achievement to the rollout of the government’s flagship agriculture policy, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ).

Referring to the vast investment opportunities in the country’s agriculture value chain, the minister rallied the country’s domestic and foreign investors to take advantage of what he described as a booming agriculture sector.

The minister, who oversaw the Planting for Food and Jobs policy, had a lot more to say about it.  He compared the production figures of some major food crops before the Akufo-Addo administration took office with figures the PFJ had recorded.

Former British Minister, Tony Blair (left) and Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto (left)

“Take soybean for example, before 2017 we were producing less than 100,000 tonnes but, today we are more than quarter of a million. We have quadrupled our rice production and we are a net exporter of maize to neighbouring countries,” he said.

Fact-Check Ghana has verified some of the claims Dr Akoto made and presents the facts below.

Claim: “Take soybean, for example, before 2017 we were producing less than 100,000 tonnes but, today we are more than a quarter of a million.”

Verdict: Completely false

Explanation:

Figures from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MOFA) Statistics, Research and Information Directorate (SRID) showed that the country has produced more than 100,000 tonnes of soya bean since 2009, that is 13 years ago.

Fact-Check Ghana obtained the data from the ministry using the Right to Information law.  Below is a table showing the annual production figures of soybean since 2008.

From the table above, Ghana crossed 100,000 metric tonnes of production of soya bean in 2009. The production has since increased gradually over the period.

It is therefore completely false that before 2017, Ghana was producing less than 100,00 metric tonnes of soya beans.

The minister also said that Ghana was now producing more than a quarter of a million (250,000) metric tonnes of soya bean following the implementation of the PFJ.

However, the data from his own ministry MOFA as presented in the table indicates does not support the claim. In 2020, the country recorded 202,243mt. The ministry has forecasted 221,249mt for the 2021 cropping season. The country’s production is not even up to 250,000 mt let alone more than that.

It is therefore completely false that the country’s soya bean figures now stand at more than half a million tonnes.

“We have quadrupled our rice production”

Verdict: Completely false

Explanation:

Data from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MOFA) Statistics, Research and Information Directorate (SRID) indicates that even though the annual production of rice has increased since 2017, the figure has not quadrupled. Below is a table showing the annual production figures of rice since 2016.

When the sun set on Mahama’s administration in 2016, the country recorded 687,679mt of rice. Quadrupling the production of rice would mean recording 2,750, 716 mt.  In 2020, Ghana recorded 986,905mt. The ministry has forecasted that the country would record 1,072,682 mt of rice in 2021. The figure is not even up to double the production data in 2016.

The minister claim is, therefore, completely false.

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