The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has announced that it will employ over 4, 000 graduates from agricultural colleges in the country in 2018.
The Ministry also announced that it had tabled the requests from the students for the restoration of their allowances before Cabinet.
The announcement was made following agitations from students of five of the colleges, who besieged the premises of the Agric Ministry in Accra on Wednesday, demanding the immediate release of their allowances.
The Agric Minister, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, who addressed the crowd, said earlier that “cabinet has its own procedure for considering such demands, and I can assure you that your demand is seriously being considered.”
In an interview on Eyewitness News later on Wednesday, the Minister’s Press Secretary, Issah Alhassan, stated that, they had been cleared by Parliament to employ over 4, 000 graduates from the colleges who had been without jobs since 2011.
“For the past six years, no student from the Agric College has ever been employed into the public service. Now the Minister has told them emphatically that cabinet has agreed that from next year, almost 4, 000 students would be automatically employed into the public service,” he said.
“We have a backlog of over 4, 000 students at home that have never been employed. The Minister has ensured that Cabinet has approved that all of them would be employed. We need them, the issue is that, if we had enough human resources in terms of extension services, probably we’d have solved the Planting for Food and Jobs deficits and armyworm issues earlier than what was witnessed. There are so many plans in place to get students that have completed and those about to complete automatically employed.”
The complaints of the students were sparked by the restoration of allowances of trainee nurses by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
The agric students, whose allowances were scrapped along with the nursing trainees under the Mahama administration, argue that they are being discriminated against by the government despite the assurances.
The President of the Agricultural College Students Union, Chimbu Sampson Sanika, said: “We are not satisfied with that information. We want our allowances restored so that we can go through our tenures successfully.
However, Issah Alhassan, who insisted that the government had shown that it was committed to addressing their concerns, added that restoration of the allowances would need Cabinet approval before it can be done.
“We’ve met with them about three times and indicated our commitment towards addressing their grievances. The Ministry can’t just say we are restoring their allowances, it has to get Cabinet clearance. We have tried to make the students understand that we are very much committed to addressing their grievances. This must be done in a very diplomatic manner,” he explained.
“It’s not discrimination. We’ve shown them all the various stages we’ve reached as far as this issue is concerned. We are not resting on this, the Minister has never rested on this. This [Wednesday], afternoon, he reiterated his commitment because the leadership of the students are aware of the progress we have made as far as this issue is concerned. As to whether we’ve attached too much importance to nursing trainees, I can’t speak to that.”