The 2013 Ghana Budget has been released by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) that revealed a shocking lie and deceit that might have been perpetrated by consecutive governments.
The budget figures clearly indicate expenditure at a level of 20,581 billion Ghana cedis (GHS) with an allocation to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) of GHS 292,479 million. This represents an expenditure in agriculture of 1.4%.
The Government of Ghana (GOG) has, however, for a considerable time claimed or implied that it is one of few countries that are allocating at least 10% of the national government expenditure budget to agriculture.
In 2010 the then Minister in charge of MOFA, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, made a presentation to the World Bank Annual Bank Conference on Land Policy and Administration in Washington DC titled “Government’s role in attracting viable agricultural investment: Experiences from Ghana” where he made the following statement, “To achieve this target, African governments have agreed to increase public investment in agriculture by a minimum of 10% of their national budgets – substantially more than the 4% to 5% average they committed previously. Ghana committed about 9% of her budget to public investment in agriculture in 2009.”
Now, in 2013, the allocation has decreased to only 1.4%.
One would have assumed that if the committed budget in 2009 was 9% that it would by now, four years later, have exceeded the minimum guideline of 10%.
The 10% guideline stems from a commitment made by African countries including Ghana to increase public investment in agriculture by a minimum of 10% of their national budgets and to raise agricultural productivity by at least 6 per cent.
This commitment was made as part of the participation in the “Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme” (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which in turn is a programme of the African Union (AU).
After announcement of the 2013 budget there was an immediate negative reaction.
The Kwadaso MP, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, claimed that the country was heading to an imminent food crisis.
According to him Ghana’s agriculture sector is fast deteriorating and needs urgent attention. He said that the agricultural sector was allocated 340 million Ghana cedis, representing 2% of total budgetary allocation – an amount Dr Afriyie insisted is woefully inadequate.
In an interview on with News’ Parliamentary correspondent Dr. Afriyie claimed that the amount was not even enough to develop agriculture in the northern regions of Ghana.
“If you take account of the rate at which the population is growing, which is close to three per cent then it means that agricultural growth has been stagnant,” he said.
As reported on Ghanaweb Dr. Afriyie, a ranking member on Parliament’s Food and Agriculture Committee, said there is a widening gap between the growth of the economy and the growth of agriculture which is a recipe for disaster.
According to him government has always been playing lip service to the development of agriculture in the country. “There is lack of commitment; there is a lot rhetoric and propaganda by this government about the importance of agriculture but when it comes to where the resources are to be put, very little is given,” he said.
He continued to say that the budgetary allocation for agriculture for 2013 is paltry and that it would not change the lives of farmers in the country.
In a statement issued by Dr. Afriyie he concluded as follows:
“As we can see from the account so far, it is clear that the state of food, agriculture and cocoa is a deplorable situation. The NDC in 2008 promised Ghanaians that by the end of 2012 they would have “… sufficiently modernised agriculture to assure food security for the people and dependable raw materials source for industry”. No such deed has happened. The government has to act urgently to avoid Ghana falling into the Dutch Disease with the emerging oil and gas industry.”
Dr. Afriyie further said that “the lack of focus of agricultural policy is reflected in misplaced emphasis on window-dressing schemes such as the Youth in Agriculture and Block Farming Programmes.”
He maintains that such programmes designed to address youth unemployment in the short-term are absorbing disproportionate public resources away from the pressing needs of the millions of small-scale farmers around the country producing the large bulk of agricultural output.
In addition he says that the Buffer Stock Company established by the government in 2009 is highly undercapitalised for the task assigned to it to support the local grain market.
The issue at hand is the 1.4% allocation of the national budget to agricultural development that might be a major cause of the non-performance of the sector.
The GOG may have an answer to this blatant discrepancy and if they do they owe it to the people of Ghana to explain the situation.
To worsen this situation a further indication is that 46.6% of the budget allocated to agriculture is donor dependent. If the donor component is excluded from the budget allocated to MOFA the real percentage contribution by the GOG to agriculture is a scanty 0.76%.
This is a very long way away from the committed 10%.
This serious allegation of deceit by the GOG asks for an explanation.
FSG will be the first to apologize if proved to be wrong.
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