The Ghana Agricultural Producers and Trader’s Organisation, (GAPTO), an advocacy group for the agriculture sector has held a stakeholder workshop to help implement policies that will improve access to funding to farmers.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from representatives and leaders of small holder farmer groups nationwide as well as government and relevant Ministries, Department And Agencies (MDAs) to discuss policy recommendations, and agreement reached on the way forward to remove barriers to access to funding of agriculture activities.
The workshop, organised in Accra with support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge, (BUSAC) fund was under the theme: ‘How to improve access to funding to operators in the agricultural sector.’
The objectives of the programme among others was to equip and support members of GAPTO in effective advocacy skills to enable them influence policy and action of those in the public sector.
It was also to help members of GAPTO better appreciate business sector advocacy, the processes involved in influencing decision making and its implications for the associations.
It was also targeted at persuading the government and other relevant MDAs to develop and implement policies that will help to remove barriers to access funding in the agricultural sector, as well as to collaborate with policymakers and insurance companies to come out with insurance policies for the agricultural sector into reduce risks associated with the sector.
Alhaji Haruna Agesheka, the Secretary General of the GAPTO speaking at the stakeholder workshop proposed that financial institutions should collaborate with government to find out how some of this risks can be minimized and mitigated, as this will make lending to farmers in particular more attractive to the various banks within the country. Financial products should be designed specifically for those within the agricultural sector.
He explained that the need for stakeholders within the industry, including the Agricultural Development Bank (adb), Export Development Agricultural Investment Fund and Micro Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) to address the challenges of the traders to boost production within the sector.
Alhaji Agesheka called for the formation of farmer based organisations such as GAPTO in various farming communities to enable them to become more credit worthy and presentable to the financial institutions which will position the cost of borrowing funds to be cheaper for the farmers.
“The formation of a credit union by GAPTO members may be a step in the right direction. A typical example of well structured credit union is that of credit agricole which has it’s head quarters in France,” he said.
The acting Head of Operations of MASLOC, Daniel Axim, urged traders to be conscious about the amount of money to borrow from the financial institutions
The agriculture sector employs about 60 percent direct and indirectly of the total work force in the country and about 25% to the country’s gross domestic products (GDP), the sector also provides the bulk of raw materials to industry, and it is the main sector that can guarrantee the country’s food security.
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