The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana has asked government and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in particular, to come clear on what it describes as duplication of initiatives in the Agricultural sector to avoid confusion.
In its analysis of the 2018 budget, the PFAG emphasised,”We expect clarity on the multiplicity of initiatives adopted by government for the agricultural sector. This brings confusion and breeds duplication resulting in ineffectiveness and we expect government to come clear on them.”
It said for instance that 2017 agricultural initiatives mentioned under other programmes still come under the new 2018 Akufo Addo Program for Economic Transformation (AAPET) initiative.
The same, according to Association, can be said about the extension support to farmers under the Nation Builders Corps (NBC). It also questions how the GH¢400 million proposed fund to de-risk the agriculture and agribusiness sector different from the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) proposed in 2016. Also connected is the establishment of the fifty (50) Farmer Service Centres to enhance mechanization, increase productivity and reduce post-harvest loss.
It submitted “In the first instance, the budget doesn’t provide the total expenditure for this initiative, and the source and sustainability funding. This gap is likely to stall the timely implementation of these initiatives. In addition, there are existing but non-functional AMSECs and we are unaware of any plans to revitalize them, just as government is planning to do with NAFCO and others.”
Addressing a press conference in Accra last Tuesday, Mr Charles Nyaaba, Programmes officer of the PFAG, stated that the Association is particularly concerned about the silence of the budget on the quantity of inputs (seeds and fertilizers) to be provided in 2018 for the targeted 500,000 farmers.
“We expect early negotiations with suppliers of subsidized fertilizers and seeds to forestall delays and make it possible for the inputs to be in stock in the regions and districts prior to the 2018 major planting season.” Mr Nyaaba submitted.
He also expressed the group’s disappointed in government’s failure to create the necessary condition to build the capacity of local seed producers to enable them produce to meet the local demand, rather than relying on imports. Again, he lamented there is also no specific resources allocated for research scientists to come up with new innovations such as soil nutrients suitability test, improved local seeds, discovery of pest and diseases control strategies as well as improved agronomic practices.
Mr Nyaaba indicated that as Ghana struggles to achieve food security, it’s obvious that significant economic and social progress cannot be attained without marked improvement in the productivity of smallholder farmers. He said with ambitious initiatives for the agriculture sector outlined in the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana, it is expected that agriculture will from hence get adequate share of the total GoG budget.
He added “We also expect that relevant government agencies must conduct timely and regular assessment of implementation performance of interventions set out in the budget for the sector, whiles M&E results of development interventions must be disseminated and communicated to the citizenry to ensure accountability, improve interventions, and motivate stakeholders to action.”
By: Mohammed Suleman