Peasant farmers have called on government to stop paying lip service to agriculture mechanization in the country, as it has gravely affected the performance of the sector in recent times.
In a report jointly authored with SEND Ghana christened: ‘2016 Agriculture Budget Analysis,’ the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, said the incumbent government has exhibited a lack of sober commitment towards expanding and improving the Agricultural Mechanization Service Centres (AMSECs).
Drawing comparisons between the 2013 Budget and that of 2016, the organisations noted that not a single promise has been fulfilled by government.
“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 to 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 has again promised to procure 50 tractors with the requisite components to support Agricultural Mechanization Services Enterprise Centres (AMSECs).
The report said the development is affecting smallholder farmers, especially in the rural areas.
“This development is not good for smallholder 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 promise 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 percent instead of a projected 3.5 percent in 2015.