A 1.3% growth rate recorded in the agric sector does not mean the sector is performing poorly, according to Chief Technical Advisor to the Agric Minister, Dr. Samuel Dapaah.
He said this last Wednesday in a meeting attended by the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), the Ghana Federation of Agricultural Producers, and Farmer-based Organisations (FBOs), The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Oxfam and Action Aid.
Dr. Dapaah said as the Ghanaian economy matured, the contribution of agriculture to GDP would of necessity have to come down.
“I am saying that Ghana’s agriculture has five sub-sectors which are crops other than cocoa, cocoa, livestock, forestry and fisheries. So the 1.3% growth is the composite of these five sub-sectors.
“In addition to that, you may find it interesting to look at what is happening to the crop sub-sector, what is happening to cocoa, what is happening to livestock – and you may still get encouragement because the crop sector is doing well.
“Really, if you are talking about food security, the contribution of forestry – which has been minus 14% over the last two years – does not directly contribute to our food security,” Dr. Dapaah said.
Edward Kareweh, Deputy General Secretary of GAWU, had earlier in a memorandum expressed concern about the growth figures – calling for a relook at the agric sector, particularly the way it is funded.
“A 1.3% growth rate, as published by the Statistical Service for agriculture, is not good enough; and agriculture is now playing the third fiddle in its contribution to GDP. This is so serious for us because of the potential for agriculture to provide employment for the teeming numbers of Ghanaians who are without employment,” he said.
Dr. Dapaah, who is also a former Chief Director of the Agric Ministry, insisted however that just looking at the growth rate makes it difficult to read meaning into the growth pattern: “because if you have 100 to start with and you add 10, it is 10%. Now if you have a 1000 to begin with and you add the same 10, it is one percent. But in total you added 10 in both cases”.
In the US, he said, agriculture contributed 1.2% to last year’s GDP – but they are not worried because they have a very strong agribusiness sector.
“So when they take the raw material and add value, they jump to 11% of GDP and employment goes to 17%; and that is the normal trend because you cannot have agriculture contributing 50% to GDP when industry has picked up and when the services are in there. Until agriculture grows faster than both the services sector and industry, our contribution is going to go down.”
Some of the attendees at the meeting however found Dr. Dapaah’s position contradictory, asking him if Ghana’s agriculture had reached its full potential for the country to be satisfied with the declining growth rate.
To this, he was quick to admit that the sector was doing only 20% of its potential, and that more work needs to be done to add value to agricultural produce.