Business News of Monday, 10 July 2017
Policy Think Tank, IMANI Africa, has questioned the viability of government’s biggest agricultural policy dubbed ‘Planting for Food and Jobs.’
IMANI decried that the policy failed to address key concerns such as the lack of access to finance, unavailability of water and lack of mechanization drive.
The concerns contained in a report commissioned by the think tank, said “access to finance remains a huge challenge within the agriculture sector yet the campaign is silent on it.”
“It is needful for the government to roll out policies that will incentivize private banks to give credit to farmers at low interest rate. The high risk nature of the business makes it difficult for the financial institutions to give loans to those within the agricultural sector,” the report added.
The Planting for Food and Jobs program is one of the government’s flagship programmes aimed at improving agricultural production in the country.
The program rolled out in all 216 districts of the country involves the supply of farm resources such as high yielding and improved seedlings to participating farmers.
The farmers will also get agrochemicals such as fertilizer at reduced prices.
Government has said the program will create some 750,000 jobs and would motivate farmers to grow staple foods such as maize, millet, and beans.
But IMANI Ghana in its report said although the campaign could be a golden opportunity for the government to generate more revenue from exports beyond the increase in food crops targeted so far, in its current state, it falls short of taking advantage of advancement in technology.
“The planting for food and job campaign in brief seeks to address challenges with farming inputs such as seed, fertilizer and extension services as well as the marketing of the food crops. However, the programme in its current structure fails to tackle the most critical challenge inhibiting productivity in the agric value chain: mechanization of the farming process. Incorporating significant agritech in the campaign to improve the entire value chain: from seed tracking, land preparation, irrigation, harvesting, storage and packaging can improve production and attract the youth into the sector as well.”
“Several opportunities exist for the country to use technology to solve most agriculture related challenges yet technology uptake and utilisation within the sector is very limited. The government should sensitise and also encourage the youth and the private sector to come up with technology driven innovations that can solve the issue of post-harvest losses, access to inputs, market etc.,” the report added.