Business News of Tuesday, 3 October 2017
The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre’s (GIPC), Yofi Grant has underscored the need for Ghana to refocus on agriculture saying, it will shape the fortunes of the country.
Speaking at the USAID FinGap Agric and Agribusiness Investment Forum on how to create opportunities along the agricultural value chain, Tuesday, Mr Grant noted that refocusing on agriculture will ensure food security, alleviate poverty and also improve the growth of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
He expressed worry on Ghana’s performance in agriculture over the years, indicating it is not befitting of a country which was known for its exploits in the sector.
“I read somewhere that a nation that cannot feed itself is a nation at risk. As we stand here, indeed, we do not feed ourselves. Many years ago, agriculture was the headline of our economy. 60 years after independence, although we claim to be agricultural nation, agriculture’s growth to GPD has been trending downwards year after year. Agricultural growth has virtually gone in the negative; yet, last year, we imported food to the tune of 2.2 billion dollars. That can never be a satisfactory position especially when we have 8 million hectors of arable land lying fallow in the northern parts of Ghana.
“We import over 600 million dollars of rice, not to mention sugar when we have all the necessary inputs that can make us self-sufficient. Almost every bit of research on Africa has stated that for the continent to make it, agriculture must lead the way. So we need to refocus,” he noted.
Highlighting what ought to be done to improve productivity, Grant said there was the need to invest and mechanise agriculture, boost irrigation, help farmers to adopt more scientific, reliable ways of farming as well as implementing policies which affect the sector.
He indicated that the government is putting in place a national addressing system “that relies on digital mapping through searchlight such that every square meter in this country has a digital address. That will enable proper mapping and proper use of lands and try and separate ownership from usage.”
Grant however expressed happiness over the level of investment, as he asserted that it will boost the confidence of farmers.
“Many finance people think agriculture is the most difficult place to finance. Yes, it is. If there are no necessary interventions to make it scientific and therefore predictable, then it’s difficult. But if you can do the other inputs, then financing agriculture is not as difficult as it should be,” he said.