Business News of Monday, 23 February 2015
Smallholder farmers say the requirements for accessing the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) are too bureaucratic, thereby making it extremely difficult for them to enjoy fruit from the Fund.
According to the farmers EDAIF is unfriendly to the average Ghanaian farmer, and it only presents financial opportunity to a small section of the farming class. They say financial support from the banking sector on the other hand is equally elusive to smallholder farmers, while the current access conditions for EDAIF further deepens their financial plight.
Mrs. Vida Korang, a farmer, said: “EDAIF is far away from smallholder farmers; it concentrates on a few large-scale farmers. The Fund operators must bear in mind that smallholder farmers form the largest base of the agricultural workforce in this country and can’t be neglected”.
The smallholder farmers have therefore made a passionate appeal to managers of the Fund to make things more flexible for them to access it.
This came to light at a breakfast meeting in Sunyani. The meeting was to afford various agricultural stakeholders the opportunity to offer inputs that help brighten the vision of a proposed Ghana Federation of Agriculture (GFA).
The proposed Federation is a brainchild of George Amankwah Asamoah, 2014 National Best Farmer. It is expected to serve as an umbrella organisation for all agricultural associations and other related enterprises: this is to create a platform for effective dialogue on the industry’s enhancement.
This is an effort to fast-track and solidifies the country’s agricultural development, particularly the farmers’ well-being. It will work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders including the government, business community, civil society organisations and academia among others to positively influence policies, research, and promote investments and innovations.
One other concern the farmers raised at the forum was the issue of poor road networks in the farming communities. They said most of the roads leading to these areas are unmemorable; a situation they have lamented makes it very difficult to access market after harvest.
Again, Mrs. Korang who was adjudged the 2014 best farmer in the Sunyani-West district told B&FT that the District Assemblies are doing very little to help farmers in that direction. “You will only see Assembly officers in the communities when the time is due to collect taxes. They don’t care how farmers maneuver their way to market centres.”
She said farmers are losing their investments as farm produce is left rotting in the bush, adding: “The situation is very frustrating and discouraging”.