Business News of Saturday, 7 October 2017
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has revealed that government is set to launch and implement a Marshall Plan for Agriculture.
Dr Bawumia pointed out that the Marshall Plan for Agriculture is aimed at ramping up investments under the Planting for Food and Jobs, abolish duties on agroprocessing manufacturing equipment and machinery as implement a Grant Funding Facility for Agribusiness Start-Ups.
The Vice President made this disclosure, yesterday, at the GIPC-USAID FinGAP Agriculture and Agribusiness Investment Forum held at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra.
According to him, the plan would open up food baskets across the country through road construction and irrigation projects, de-risk the agriculture and agribusiness sector through a sustainable Agriculture Financing Scheme and Crop Insurance Scheme, establishing a Pensions Scheme for Cocoa Farmers and give specific Technical Assistance/Tax Incentives to support agroprocessing, packaging and market access.
“Distinguised Ladies and Gentlemen, implementing the Marshall Plan for Agriculture will lead to structural transformation which in turn will catalyse economic activities and connect major sectors in the Ghanaian economy. It will lead to higher farmer incomes, value addition, jobs and the opportunities that come with being globally competitive.
The Marshall Plan for Agriculture will also create the conditions necessary for attracting private capital, local and international, into large-scale commercial agriculture and agribusinesses,” Dr Bawumia said.
The Vice President made reference to a report titled, ‘Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness’ where the World Bank projected that Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to capital, electric power, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods.
“The question is what we, as a country, need to do to take advantage of these upside potential and be a part of the opportunities for lasting transformational structural change in the sector and in our economies,” he mentioned.
Dr Bawumia noted that at the heart of the economic transformation plan of the Akufo-Addo led government is a strategy of ‘inclusiveness.’
He continued, “This is the driving force behind most of our initiatives, from Free SHS to One Constituency, One Million Dollars and One District, One Factory. In essence, we want a transformation of our economy that positively impacts the majority of our people, particularly the majority that have been excluded and ‘left behind’ over the years as a result of structural deficiencies in our developmental trajectory.”
The Vice President indicated that for the government to be fully convinced that the agricultural sector is ready to take off, “government must take leadership and also send the right signals to investors that it is ready to put its money where its policy priorities are.”
He said the Planting for Food and Jobs was a necessary first step for the government’s grand vision of modernizing agriculture and improving production efficiency by investing in the full agricultural and agribusiness value chain, including storage, transport, processing, packaging and marketing.
He added that this would help improve incomes and create new businesses and job opportunities in the sector
“In launching this initiative, the plan was to implement a programme that will quickly address the primary challenges of the average farmer, such as quality seeds and fertiliser, which, when addressed, would translate into measurable impact in high-yields and effectively higher incomes for the farmer,” Dr Bawumia stressed.
He stated that the policy testified the government’s belief in taking bold decisions to transform the agricultural sector right after taking over the affairs of the country.
“However, we knew that to achieve the kind of transformation in agriculture that we want to see, we must up the ante. Thus we must take even bolder decisions beyond Planting for Food and Jobs that will change the sector in fundamental ways,” Dr Bawumia said.
He bemoaned the challenges faced in the sector as the country’s inability, over the years, to optimally direct public policy and investments towards derisking the sector to enable it attract sustained private sector investments along its entire value-chain.
Dr Bawumia said with the right level of support, “we can unlock substantial value in farming, through storage, transportation, agroprocessing, branding and marketing, and distribution of food and commercial crops as well as meat products, along with other agribusiness products and services like agrochemicals, farm tools and machinery, farm management software, and seed production among others”