President John Dramani Mahama has pointed accusing fingers at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for forcing African governments to abandon subsidies for their farmers.
“Indeed African Agriculture was affected in the 70s by the policies of the World Bank and the IMF. They came with policies that said that we should allow the farmers to compete. We were made to remove subsidies… while they continued subsidizing farmers in the western countries. The African farmer was left to himself.”
His comments follow a meeting with leaders of One Africa, a campaign and advocacy organization who had called on him to make a case for small holder farmers and transparency in Agriculture budgets across Africa.
The group was at the flagstaff house to lobby the support of President Mahama for prioritization of Agriculture ahead of an African Union Meeting in Equatorial Guinea next week.The AU meeting is a platform where issues concerning the continent will be discussed among leaders.
Executive Director of One Africa Dr. Sipho Moyo told President Mahama, it is time African leaders made issues of budgetary allocations on agriculture more transparent.
The European Union (EU) under its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) program spends over 40% of its budget to subsidize European farmers.
The EU in 2010 spent 72.6 billion U.S dollars, more than twice Ghana’s GDP in 2010 of USD 32.2 billion, of its general budget on subsidies to its farmers. 39 billion euros of the amount was spent as direct subsidies (cash payment) to the farmers and 18 billion euros on indirect subsidies.
The 2008 Economic Development in Africa Report has stated the absence of direct government intervention in agriculture and the removal of subsidies to farmers are some of the reasons that account for Ghana’s inability to develop its agricultural sector.
The report also mentioned that three countries accounted for more than half of Africa’s total agricultural exports between 2000 and 2005. They were Ghana, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire.
In view of Africa’s poor showing in Agriculture, the Executive Director urged President Mahama to convince his colleagues to put in place measures that will make agriculture attractive to especially the youth on the continent.
Dr. Sipho Moyo also wants the leaders to start conscientizing the minds of the youth in Africa that Agriculture is no longer a second class occupation.
President Mahama in response promised to take up this crusade.
Despite having arable lands, Ghana imports rice, onions and tomatoes. The meat in industry is also heavily dependent on Europe and South America for chicken.
President Mahama said various measures put in place here in Ghana are already yielding results; although reaching the small scale farmers has been a major challenge
“It’s only now that we are putting in the investment to try and reverse the trend and we are making quite major successes,” he said.
Ghana has a Youth in Agriculture program and National Service Personnel are recruited yearly to work on farms under the National Service Scheme.