Farmers appeal to gov’t for serious attention to agric sector

The trend of decline in the agric sector's contribution to GDP from over 29.9% in 2010, 25.6% in 2011 and 22.7% in 2012 is a threat to Ghana's food security.

The trend of decline in the agric sector’s contribution to GDP from over 29.9% in 2010, 25.6% in 2011 and 22.7% in 2012 is a threat to Ghana’s food security.

Farmer and Civil Society organisations at a forum on Wednesday 17th April, made a passionate appeal to government to pay serious attention to agric sector.

The farmer organisations made up of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) and Ghana Federation of Agricultural Producers (GFAP) in partnership with other civil society organisations mentioned the “consistent decline of the agriculture’s sector’s contribution to GDP” as an issue that needs immediate action.

They made the appeal at a meeting with Dr. Samuel A. Dapaah, Chief Technical Advisor to the Food and Agric Minister, to present nagging concerns in the sector worthy of serious consideration by government.

According to them, the trend of decline in the agric sector’s contribution to GDP from over 29.9% in 2010, 25.6% in 2011 and 22.7% in 2012, is a threat to Ghana’s food security.

“There is the need for Ghana to be committed to the spirit and letter of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) that demands targeting small-holder farmers for poverty reduction, food security and economic growth”, a memorandum presented to government said.

80% of domestic food production in Ghana comes from small-scale farmers but the farmers lamented that access to agricultural finance is either limited or unavailable.

In their view, policies such as GPRS I and GPRS II, GSGDA, FASDEP II, METASIP among others have tried to address the issue of ineffective agricultural financing, but they have not been satisfactory.

The overriding concern by members of the farmer organisations and civil society in Ghana was that, government must implement what was collectively agreed in Maputo in 2003, which among other things stipulates allocation of 10% of national budget to agriculture with the aim to reach an annual agricultural growth rate of 6% and halving hunger and poverty by 2015.

At the Second Ordinary Assembly of the African Union in July 2003 in Maputo, African Heads of States and Governments endorsed the “Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”.

The Declaration contained several important decisions regarding agriculture, but prominent among them was the “commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years”.

It also suggested government should institute a policy mandating financial institutions to invest 20% of their loan portfolio into agric.

They appealed to government to implement the Gender and Agriculture Development Strategy (GADS), a smallholder-oriented agriculture investment planning and multi-sectorial approaches to resource allocation.

Dr. Dapaah said the sector ministry is pursuing a strategy to accelerate the commercialisation and marketing of the produce on the agriculture sector.

“The farmer should not think of himself as a subsistence farmer, that he (or she)is producing for himself alone. The farmer must think of himself as a commercial farmer so he can make money and improve the nutritional status of his or her family”, said Dr. Dapaah.

WILDAF Ghana, Ghana Trades and Livelihoods Coalition (GTLC), SEND Ghana, OXFAM, CICOL and ACTIONAID Ghana supported the forum.

The Programmes Officer of PFAG told the farmer and civil society organisations were unhappy the Minister, Mr. Kofi Humado could not make it to the forum, since the issues discussed were of utmost importance to the country’s food security.