Mr Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress of Ghana (TUC), has urged the leadership of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) to do more to influence agricultural policy and investments to resuscitate the sector. He said the decline in the contribution of agriculture to the national economy due to low budgetary allocations and investments, alongside inimical tax policies on rural plantations and agro-processing, should galvanize the union into action.
It must sit up and strengthen its advocacy to address challenges facing the sector, he said when he addressed the 10th quadrennial delegates’ conference of GAWU in Kumasi.
Mr. Asamoah second-guessed the decision by the government to abolish the zero-rated tax on rural plantations and agro-processing industries located in rural areas and the imposition of 12.5 per cent tax on rural farming and said this was a fiscal policy mistake, which would negatively affect agriculture.
This should demand the attention of GAWU and its bi-partite partners to fight such inimical policies that seek to further dip the fortunes of agriculture in the country.
Mr. Asamoah said although sector’s contribution to economy was on a downward trend, it continued to remain the most important source of employment for many people.
Ghana, he indicated, could therefore not make any meaningful headway in its development effort, if it neglected the agricultural sector.
He asked that GAWU as a leading advocate for agriculture and agricultural policy, took urgent steps to engage the authorities on policies and programmes that would give the needed boost to agriculture.
He called for the members of the Union to unite and intensify scale up the drive to recruit more people, especially from the informal sector to give them a stronger voice.
Mr Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah, General Secretary of GAWU, mentioned unemployment and under-employment, disguised forms of forced labour, continued prevalence of child labour, explicit and subtle forms of discrimination along gender lines, absence of social protection, as some of the decent work deficits in the agricultural sector.
He said these needed to be tackled to transform and make the sector more vibrant.
He underlined the need for agricultural workers to become well organized and to combine their effort to fight for their rights and interests
The three-day conference is being held under the theme “Organizing agricultural workers for decent work”.