GTLC worried over inefficient implementation of agric policies

Business News of Monday, 2 February 2015

Source: Public Agenda

Fifi Fiavi Franklin Kwetey

The Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition has bemoaned the inefficiencies that have attended the implementation of some agricultural policies in the country and has accordingly called on government to reassess its priorities in the sector and make the needed investment.

“Policy implementation by government agencies as illustrated in the budget statement leaves much to be desired. The government must reassess its priorities in agriculture and make the needed investment in the small-scale farmers to increase productivity, incomes and livelihoods of thousands of Ghanaian families in small-scale agriculture, ”concludes the Coalition in its 2013 Agro-Policy Performance Barometer Report (APPB).

The report was launched in Accra on Thursday, under the theme, ‘The Renaissance of Small Scale Agriculture: Policy and Reality. It evaluated the effectiveness of some agricultural policies in the country, particularly, commercial production of rice and tomato.

The report recommended that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s role in facilitating agriculture policy implementation, especially in relation to smallholder agriculture, should be re-examined to derive maximum benefits from all investments made in that sector.

That, according to the report, must be done in conjunction with the review of government’s investment to ensure that all budgetary allocations to scale up agriculture development were disbursed.

It added: “ The Farmers’ Day celebration must be a day when progress in meeting targets in agriculture is announced and discussed nationally.”

The report used indicators provided by Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) 2011-2015 as the main basis for comparison and assessment: food security and emergency preparedness under which rice is one of five targeted cereal crops, and increased growth in incomes under which tomato, a vegetable is placed.

Presenting the report, a Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Ghana, Mr Theodore Antwi- Asare, explained that main areas for evaluation were the skills level of farmers, how basic skills were acquired in farming land size cultivated in 2013.

According to Mr Antwi -Asare, it came to light that many of the farmers acquired skills through sheer practice and were not aware of productivity enhancing methods.

He said majority of farmers, who cultivated one to five acres, depended on tractors and hoes for their land preparation.

He emphasised the need for the Ministry of Agriculture to consider approaches to training farmers through the its Non-Formal Education Division(NFED).

The Coalition’s Co-ordinator, Mr Ibrahim Akalbila, indicated it was the duty of the Coalition to ensure that the implementation of policies in the Agriculture sector were carried out effectively.

He said in particular that, government should make the youth in agriculture programme more transparent in respect of the type of support available for youth interested in agriculture.

He proposed that annual statistics should be provided on recruitment into the programme and the progress made in terms of type of crop, area cultivated and yield as a way of informing the youth about the possibilities and opportunities in agriculture.”

Asked why the report had delayed, Mr Akalbila explained that the coalition had to do some checks and scrutinized the document properly before coming out. He assured, however, that the APPB Report for 2014 would be ready by August this year.