How realistic is agricultural modernisation in Ghana?

A GNA Feature by Bajin D. Pobia

Wa, Aug. 24, GNA
Agriculture is the bedrock of any
meaningful national industrialisation effort, and engages more than 60 per cent
of Ghana’s working population.

Therefore, the
incalculable importance of agriculture in Ghana cannot be overemphasized, because
agriculture provides the very survival needs of Ghanaians and contributes
substantially to the Gross Domestic Product.

The agricultural
sector of the economy is dominated by numerous small-holder farmers and had
witnessed many interventions to develop the sector.

Some of the
interventions included the National Agricultural Extension Project (NAEP), the
Volta Region Agricultural Development Project (VORADEP), the Upper Region
Agricultural Development Project (URADEP), the Upper West Region Agricultural
Development Project (UWRADEP) and the Sasaka Global 2000 Project.

Despite these
interventions, the sector had not witnessed dramatic growth and development,
except the cocoa sub-sector.

This has also been
justifiably so because cocoa has been a major source of Ghana’s foreign
exchange earner and had received considerable governmental attention.

It is worth noting,
that many of these agricultural development projects have been sponsored by
foreign donors and agencies ended up without the desired effect.

This is because
they are usually ephemeral in nature and suffer from sustainability deficiency.
They are usually not designed to capture a sense of ownership by the
beneficiaries to propel continuity.

The solution rests
in modernising agriculture and there has been a lot of talk towards this policy
recently.

This has led to the
importation of a large quantum of agricultural machinery and equipment to
implement the policy.

However, the mere
importation of large numbers of agricultural machinery and equipment per se
cannot do the trick without modernising farmers.

Farming today
should be considered as a business that requires a good mind to comprehend what
to do, a good training to know when to do what and a good skill to know how to
do what, as well as a good understanding to know why to do what.

It is common
knowledge that success in any business depends on having the relevant
knowledge, skills and attitude in that business venture.

The same
requirements are equally needed in doing farming as a business – that is
modernised agriculture.

One may express the
need for the Agricultural Extension Services of the Ministry of Food and
Agriculture to train and educate farmers to acquire these characteristics and
attributes.

But the question is
how many Agriculture Extension Agents are available in the field to train and
educate the farmers?   How well-resourced
are the available few to carry out their mandate and how well-motivated are
they to develop goal-directed behaviours to achieve organisational objectives?

It is not
surprising to find less than 10 agricultural extension officers manning a
district.  Obviously, such a number is
grossly inadequate to create meaningful and positive impact on the numerous
farmers in the district.

It is pathetic to
know that the agricultural sector is very poorly resourced in terms of funds
and logistics to efficiently and effectively carry out its mandate.

Agricultural
workers in Ghana have been working under appalling conditions.  Their remunerations compared to their
analogous grades in other sectors fall within a lower income bracket.

Their fringe
benefits such as vehicle maintenance allowances, travelling and   transport and out-of-station night
allowances, though approved in the budgets, have not been forthcoming.

Provision of
transport for extension duties has become an obligate dependent on donor funded
agricultural projects, which are sub sustainability deficient.

No risk allowances
for exposure to very bad weather conditions such as the searing heat of the
mid-day sun on the field, chilly conditions during severe rains harmattan and
attacks by insects, reptiles and wild animals etc.

No overtime allowance
is paid to agriculture extension workers even though they work with farmers
during public holidays and weekends.

Obviously it should
not be expected that officers working under such conditions could put up their
best to achieve organisational objectives as agricultural modernisation because
they are highly de-motivated and morale is very low.

Governments ought
to realise that agricultural modernisation is capital intensive and requires an
interplay of several factors to offer it a holistic approach to achieve the
desire results.

But the appropriate
utilisations of these resources to get Ghana out of poverty are hindered by
leadership challenges and political will.

It is said that an
antelope, which is destined to die does not listen to the hunter’s whispering.

Is Ghana’s
agriculture destined to suffer like the antelope? If no, in the light of
foregoing circumstances how realistic is agricultural modernisation in Ghana
or?

GNA

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