METROPOLITAN, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) across the country recently completed an orientation workshop in Accra to pave way for them to begin work.
In the Ashanti Region, the MMDCEs, who are representatives of the President in the region, quickly moved to their offices to begin work, bearing in mind their duty to help President Mills to carry out his promise to make life better for the people.
From the outside, one may think that the President’s representatives will have a Herculean task in handling affairs in the region, which is the biggest opposition area in the country.
However, anybody who has followed the history of the region over the years will agree with me that the people always look for development, no matter the government in power. This accounts for the comparatively high growth rate of the region.
Perhaps this is what the MMDCEs will be counting on to deliver as they sit down to work.
With its thriving gold mining, agriculture and business activities, especially in the capital, Kumasi, Ashanti is arguably the richest region in Ghana.
This is not to say, however, that all is well with the people.
Indeed, very few local people benefit from the natural resources of the region and, to make matters worse, they are now faced with the consequences of a changing climate, which has negatively affected the production of some traditional crops, including cocoa.
Agriculture remains a key area that the MMDCEs will have to focus attention on if they are to make any meaningful impact in their administration.
Some of the major problems facing agricultural production in the region are the high cost involved in land acquisition, high cost of production due to the high cost of farm inputs, lack of standardised pricing system for farm produce, insufficient credit and loan facilities for farmers, poor rate of repayment of loans received by farmers, lack of storage and processing facilities and over dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
As heads of government business in their areas of jurisdiction, the chief executives must move to get the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to address the challenges in the sector so that the people can get the most out of their toils.
In tackling the challenges, efforts should be made to liaise with the relevant research and training institutions for information and assistance for the promotion of agriculture in the districts.
Action should also be initiated to ensure that agricultural development programmes and projects are implemented in accordance with the rules, regulations and quality standards of MoFA.
Getting agriculture to play the expected role in the economic development of the region is one of the surest ways of reducing poverty among the people.
The poverty reduction strategy should, therefore, be focused on agriculture in order to achieve the desired impact. In particular, the district assemblies must collaborate with MoFA to develop schemes that will assist those engaged in agricultural and related activities.
The Ashanti Region has a good number of its people operating in the private sector but the sector, as presently constituted with such high proportions of single-person enterprises, cannot be an engine of growth.
Such enterprises do not expand to absorb the ever-increasing labour force. Moreover, they contribute next to nothing to taxes.
Consequently, the MMDCEs should get their respective assemblies to come up with policies aimed at improving the private sector and creating an enabling environment with the aim of empowering it to expand its base in order to absorb extra labour.
Appropriate policies to integrate this sector into the various social sector schemes will have to be evolved. Such integration can even have an indirect positive effect on the growth and expansion of private sector enterprises.
The road sector is another area where serious emphasis should be placed. The state of many of the roads in the region is nothing to write home about and there is the need for the chief executives to take realistic measures in tackling them.
With the rains setting in, a number of communities are already feeling the pinch and no effort should be spared to get them in shape.