Business News of Friday, 7 December 2018
Source: Centre for Agro Liberty (CAL)
It has been 34 years down the lane since Ghana began to celebrate and honour gallant farmers, fishers and agricultural workers for their hard work in feeding mother Ghana.
This day, is the National Farmers Day, an annual day that is specially observed on the first Friday of every December to acknowledge the important position farmers and fishers holds in the country’s socio-economic development.
Objectively, the celebration is to motivate our people in the agric sector to improve on productivity in order for Ghana to continuously feed her population, provide raw materials to industries and contribute substantially to the country’s development.
This year’s celebration which is dubbed, “Agriculture, moving Ghana beyond aid” will be held in the Northern Region of Ghana.
We at the Centre for Agro Liberty (CAL) are with the believe that, this year’s National Farmers’ day will reflect the status of agriculture as the lead sector for propelling Ghana’s economy to the height of prosperity the country desires.
We all know the economic transformation of every country hinges on agriculture. Agriculture can lead economic transformation in many countries in Africa, provided farm productivity is harmonized and linked to manufacturing and other sectors of the economy through agro-processing.
CAL, however acknowledges Government’s policy direction and interventions such as the planting for food and jobs (PFJ) and most importantly the Agricultural Infrastructure Warehouses and Markets programme, which will serve as incentives to get young people into agriculture and ensure improved production.
We hope and pray the Agriculture Infrastructure and Warehouses and Markets programme will help address the challenges of price volatility and post-harvest losses that puts pressure on farmers to sell their produce immediately after harvesting.
Ghana still had a long way to go in achieving the Ghana Beyond Aid. To achieve the full value of agriculture, particularly in the cocoa sector.
The standard of living has become hard and the price of everything in the economy has gone up, meanwhile the income of the hard working farmers have remained static nominally, and decreasing in real terms. So, while the cost of living is rising, the real incomes of farmers are dwindling.
The real producer price after accounting for inflation, declined by 16% in 2017 and further down by 8% in 2018. So cumulatively, the real price paid to cocoa farmers diminished by 24% from 2016 up till today.
Why should government in the first place fail to improve the welfare of the farmer whose labour brings value to the entire country?
According to Send-Ghana, “Governments have for years failed to meet Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme obligations and invested less than 10% of its annual expenditure in agriculture. According to them, more than half (51.2 percent) of the Ministry of Food & Agriculture projected expenditures in 2019 are set to be sourced from donors.
With Ghana’s attainment of lower middle income status, donor support may start to dwindle. To make Ghana self-sufficient and attain a Ghana Beyond Aid as well as Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 and 17.1, (i.e., no poverty, no hunger and strengthened domestic resource mobilization), government must find a sustainable way to fund and implement its own capital investments.”
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto also noted in his statement in Parliament ahead of this year’s farmers day that, there is lack of funds for this year’s farmers’ day celebration.
According to him, the ministry had to depend on sponsorship from corporate Ghana and other development partners to ensure successful celebration.
He indicated that the constraints of the national budget have been a major drawback to this year’s preparations since the same budgetary allocation of GH?2m approved for the fiscal years of 2016 and 2017 has been maintained in 2018.
CAL believes that a comprehensive agriculture development programme that will respond to all the sectors of the agriculture industry for positive and sustainable growth is the way forward.
We believe agriculture should be treated as a priority sector, and that both small and marginal farmers should be recognized as a special group.
Direct income support should be given to small and marginal farmers, efforts should be done for value enhancement of agro products, trade policies should be designed for sustainable agriculture growth and the protection of agriculture markets.
The government should emphasize upon agriculture oriented research and
education, synchronizing all related departments for better execution of agricultural policies.
Government should also focus upon land reforms, by avoiding misuse and diversion of land for non-agriculture activities
For effective Agro Marketing Strategies, direct marketing encourages farmers to undertake grading of farm produce at the farm gate and avert the necessity to drag produce to regulated market for sale. Direct marketing enables farmers and processors
All the relevant policies like Water Policy, Food Processing Industry Policy,
Live Stock Policy, Land Use Policy should be supportive to each other.
To this end, we seize this opportunity to congratulate all our gallant farmers and fishers, that in spite of all the challenges they still continue to contribute to the sustainability of food security and national economy. We say ‘AYEKOOO!’
Long live our gallant farmer and fishers!
Long live Ghana!!
Ernest Danso Abiam
Executive Director – CAL
Samuel Adjei Kwarteng
Co – Director – CAL