Business News of Sunday, 3 January 2016
A report accessed by Myjoyonline.com shows that government has been paying lip service to agriculture mechanisation over the last few years.
According to the report, titled the 2016 Agriculture Budget Analysis, jointly authored by SEND Ghana and the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, the government has not shown “serious commitment towards expanding and improving the Agricultural Mechanization Service Centres (AMSECs).”
Chronicling government promises from the 2013 Budget to the 2016, the Report said not a single promise was met over the period under review.
“On page 86, paragraph 273 of the 2013 budget statement for instance, government committed to increase the number of AMSECs to cover at least 170 districts in order to provide mechanization services to farmers who cannot afford their own machines. This was not achieved by the end of the budget year.
“On page 84, paragraph 392 of the 2014 budget statement, government committed to continue to address the challenges confronting the mechanization of agriculture along the value chain among other interventions facilitate the expansion of coverage of private sector led Agricultural Mechanization Services Enterprise Centres (AMSECs) to 148 Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in 2014.
On page 73, paragraph, 348 of the 2015 budget statement, government committed to increase the 89 Agricultural Mechanization Service Centers (AMSECs) currently operating in 62 Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts Assemblies to 130. Though the issue of expanding the AMSECs keep appearing in the budget statements since 2013, not a single AMSEC has been added,” the report indicated.
The failures, notwithstanding, government in the 2016 budget is again promising to procure 50 tractors with the requisite components to support Agricultural Mechanization Services Enterprise Centres (AMSECs).
The report said the development is affecting small holder farmers, especially in the rural areas.
“This development is not good to small holder farmers especially crop farmers who are in dire need of mechanization services such as tractors, processions and especially combine harvesters. Many farmers in 2015 could not harvest their rice due to non availability of combine harvesters.
On Fertilizer subsidy the report found, that government again failed to deliver on its promises of providing the required fertilizer quantity for farmers.
Out of a target of 180,000mt of fertilizer promised in the 2015 budget, the report suggested that only 90,000mt was provided and even not all of it got to the farmers.
The report said that could have dire implications on an already shrinking agriculture sector which grew by 0.4% instead of a projected 3.5% in 2015.
The report also mentioned the increasing decline in the agriculture sector to GDP from 31.8 percent in 2009 to 20.6 percent in 2014, adding they would rather the agriculture sector is developed well enough to permeate all other sectors of the economy.
The Agric Minister Fifi Kwetey at a recently held Agriculture forum organised by the two institutions (SEND, PFAG) said government was not worried at all by the decline in the contribution of agriculture, insisting that was what pertained in all developed countries.