Business News of Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Kenneth Thompson, Chief Executive of Dalex Finance, has called on financial institutions in the country to invest in the agricultural sector.
According to him, the active involvement of the financial institutions in the sector would not only grow the sector but create employment for the youth.
Mr. Thompson disclosed this while speaking at a press conference in Accra to reveal Dalex’s investment in rice farming.
He said, “There is money in agric. There is risk but investing in agric is very good because that is where the growth is. The institutions must get in there and invest.”
Dalex Finance has partnered Shikaafa Buni Rice Farmers Association to provide credit to over 10,000 rice farmers in the Northern Region.
The Funds would be used to provide farming inputs such as fertilizer, improved seeds and combined harvester.
Touching on the Dalex rice farmers’ programme, Mr. Thompson expressed happiness that Dalex had found a profitable and sustainable model for funding smallholder farmers who are the bedrock of Ghana’s agricultural sector.
He urged other financial institutions to follow the lead of Dalex and fund the agric sector, adding, “It can be done. ‘Shikaafa’ is a for-profit organization, and we are mining the value chain by also engaging Avnash Rice Mill, who guarantee to purchase the rice from the farmers.”
Mr. Thompson also called on the Ministry of Agriculture to expedite action to avert the looming disaster posed by armyworms, indicating that armyworms had been found in the Eastern, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Western regions.
“Since 2016, the armyworms have destroyed more than 5,870 hectors of maize, cowpea and cocoa. The effect of these pests could be worse than the ‘biblical plague of locust,’ if unchecked,” he said.
Nbanty Dagbanja, a rice farmer from Dagbanjado in the Northern Region and a beneficiary of the credit programme, commended Shikaafa and Dalex for providing seeds, chemicals, fertilizers, as well as harvesting services that had improved their yields.
Akshay Sharma, Chairperson of Shikaafa Buni, who touched on the challenges of milling rice in Ghana, stated, “The local paddy (raw material) prices are too expensive, as the yields per acre achieved by the farmers generally in Ghana is as low as 800kg per acre compared to minimum of 2.4mt per acre internationally in Thailand, Vietnam, India, USA and Pakistan.”
He lauded the ‘One village, One Dam’ policy of government.