Ghana’s largest agriculture and development financier, Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) has announced that it is investing a princely amount of GHC 208 million this year to finance value-chain activities in the agricultural sector.
These value-chain activities the bank mentioned include export and food cropping, poultry farming, acquaculture, and inputs supply. The Executive Head of Agriculture Finance Department at ADB, Sylvia Nyante disclosed this on Investor Dialogue Series on Uniiq Fm , an Accra-based radio station recently.
The maiden dialogue series was organized by the Investor newspaper sponsored by the ADB. Ms Nyante and her colleague panelists on the radio programme discussed the challenges and opportunities within Ghana’s agricultural sector.
She was quick to reveal: ‘The bank recorded substantial growth in the agric sector during the three year strategic plan which ended last year. Approvals to the agric sector increased from GH¢39, 239,994.27 in 2009 to GH¢146, 871,552.00 in 2012’.
Sectors which benefitted included industrial crops, food crops, export crops, aquaculture, poultry, food marketing, agro processing and input supply, Ms Nyante added.
According to her, the bank also provided long term, medium and short term loans depending on the project needs, while other businesses received non funded facilities to enable them import equipment’s raw materials and agro inputs.
Ms Nyante noted that European and North American demand for fresh fruits, vegetables and other non-traditional crops from Ghana continue to increase.
To this end, she was happy to say that ADB intends to take advantage of the high local and foreign demand for value-added agricultural products to expand agro-processing businesses in the country.
In her own words: ‘The potential for this sector is bright and is also a source of foreign exchange for the country. The expansion of the mandate of Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) to provide long term loans to the agricultural sector is one the bank intends to take advantage of to deepen it support to the agricultural sector.’
The government’s intention to commence construction under the Accra Plains Irrigation Projects covering 11,000 hectares of land will provide opportunities for both the bank and farmers to expand the cultivation of cereals, vegetables and other food crops, the agric economist and Executive Head of Agriculture Finance Department at ADB noted.
Ms Nyante was hopeful that the development of the national seed policy will ensure that only good viable seeds are sold on the market. This is expected to increase crop yields and revenues for farmers and improve their ability to pay their loans.
The establishment of a turnkey fish processing plant at Elmina will reduce post-harvest losses and increase the profitability of operators in the small-scale fishing industry, she indicated.
The outspoken Ms Nyante argued among her co-panelists that government intention to commence an accelerated aquaculture development strategy to improve fingerlings and provide feed to farmers this year would significantly boost the agric sector.
In that regard, she stated that ‘ADB intends to take advantage of this strategy and deepen credit to the aquaculture sector considered by the bank as one of the most viable sub-sectors in agriculture.’
Ms Nyante however observed that the irregular rainfall pattern, sharp depreciation of the cedi, increase in the cost of inputs and raw materials, cheap imports of agricultural products such as chicken as well as market and price risks, especially for exporters as some external challenges confronting ADB.
She also mentioned that the lack of support services, irrigation, storage facilities, markets, among others, constituted additional problems.
Ms Nyante lamented that the failure of project promoters to adhere to export standards, inability to provide adequate security, inability to mitigate post-harvest losses, diversion of funds and willful default militated against efforts by ADB to support agriculture.