Farmers’ groups unhappy with gov’t’s agricultural provisions in 2015 Budget


Farmers’ groups across the country are unimpressed with the government’s agricultural provisions spelt out in the 2015 Budget estimates.

The groups, including the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), SEND Ghana with support from OSIWA and Oxfam raised a number of issues including a low growth agricultural target, the absence of subsidised fertilizers and other pertinent issues affecting the sector.

After budget analysis workshops organised in Accra and Takoradi, the groups issued a communiqué, which among other things requests a review of some of the provisions in the agriculture sector.

The following is the full communique.
Preamble
We participants at the CSO workshop on the analysis of the 2015 budget statement, which focused on the provisions for agriculture particularly small-scale farming and which was attended by state and non-state actors in agriculture, jointly organized by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and SEND-Ghana with support from OSIWA and Oxfam GB respectively, on December 18, 2014, have observed that:

1.      Though the agriculture sector recorded a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 5.3 percent representing a 0.1 percentage increase in that of 2013 which was 5.2 percent. Thus, there is every reason to admit that some effort was made in order to improve the sector’s growth within the period. The 2015 growth target of 2.9 percent is far below the sector’s investment plan[1]annual growth rate of at least 6 percent over the implementation period of 2011-2015.

2.      The crops sub-sector, which recorded a provisional growth rate of 3.6 percent, signifies a substantial deviation from its 2014 budget target of 5.8 percent. On the other hand, forestry and logging witnessed a more than anticipated expansion of 16.5 percent from a target of 0.5 percent. Cocoa, livestock and fishing are estimated to grow at 4.3 percent, 5.3 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. Hence, the realized sector growth is disproportionately influenced by the surge in forestry and logging. In the circumstances, the observed sector expansion appears to produce less than proportionate positive effect on small-scale farmers, who are largely engaged in food crop production. The less than anticipated growth in crops may be explained by reference to improper policy intervention and targeting.

3.      There was no distribution of subsidized fertilizer and seed to crop farmers in 2014 crop season in spite of specific provision of 180,000mt[2] having been made in the 2014 budget statement.

4.      Similarly, under agriculture mechanization, government’s strategy[3] was to facilitate the expansion of coverage of private sector led Agricultural Mechanization Services Enterprise Centres (AMSECs) to 148 MMDAs. However, there is no indication as to the establishment of a single AMSEC in 2014 as no mention is made in the 2015 Budget Statement.

5.      GCAP is supporting investors with matching grants to improve infrastructure in the areas of land acquisition, warehousing and marketing, productivity for agribusiness investments in the SADA zone and Accra plains. However, it is important to develop the market systems to ensure that small-scale farmers located in these 2 areas benefit from the investments.

6.      The current Irrigation level of under one percent of arable land is not encouraging for sustained food security in Ghana. Considering that a number of irrigation projects such as Tono, Vea, Dawenya are facing challenges in the total use of available land means that the under one percent may be an overestimate. There is no clear target set for irrigation development in 2015.

From these observations, we proposed the following for action points for government in 2015:

1.      Additional efforts must be made by government to attain the METASIP annual growth rate of at least 6%.

2.      Agriculture should be driven by crops subsector rather than forestry and logging subsector for the simple reason that logging leads to deforestation with its attendant effects on crop production.

3.      The fertilizer and seed subsidy programme must necessarily target small scale food crop farmers due to their peculiar circumstances and vulnerability and should be timely.

4.      Government should commit resources to increase the number of AMSECs with corresponding increase in the spectrum of machinery requirement. This should be backed by strategy to ensure that smallholder farmers who constitute majority of farmer population in the country have access to agricultural mechanization services all year round.

5.      There is a need to revitalized the existing irrigation facilities and add more to meet the current demand and for future use.

6.      Government should necessarily protect all agricultural lands from incessant encroachment especially lands under irrigation schemes. 

Issued by:
Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana and Send-Ghana


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