By Albert Futukpor
Tamale, Nov 10, GNA-The Network of Commercial Agriculture Production (NETCAP) has proposed four major interventions for the government to implement “to avert a possible food security crisis.”
They include the expansion of the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme to include all farmers in the country instead of only smallholder farmers, expanding the fertilizer subsidy to cover other aspects of the farmers’ production such as improved high-yielding certified seeds, chemicals for plant protection, and agricultural machinery, and removing the export restrictions on soybeans to solve the problem of low prices and contribute to an increase in the flow of foreign currency into the country to help stabilize the local currency.
The rest is the need for government to strengthen the capacity of new institutions such as Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending to help buy down the perceived risks involved with lending to the agriculture sector so that financial institutions would be encouraged to lend more to the agriculture sector, review the operations of the National Food Buffer Stock Company and provide it with the resources to provide guaranteed prices to cushion farmers against lower prices.
Mr Joshua Toatoba, Secretary of NETCAP, who announced the proposals at a news conference in Tamale, said implementing them would help increase agricultural production, create jobs, and reduce the country’s food import bill.
He cited the challenges facing commercial agricultural production in the country, which included inadequate access to and high cost of fertilizers and other inputs such as high-yielding certified seeds and other chemicals, low market prices for some agricultural products, notable soybeans as a result of the implementation of export restrictions on soybeans, high cost of credit and a lack of support from financial institutions to lend to the agricultural sector, especially seasonal grain farming, and high cost of machinery to enable the modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture.
He said “Even though some pragmatic farmer-centred policies had been initiated and implemented by the government, these were not sufficient to tame the tide of price increases. We are concerned that if our challenges are not addressed immediately, our production capacities will be further constrained next year, and that can derail all the gains we have made in recent years.”
A recent World Bank report said the country (Ghana) recorded the highest food price increase of about 122 per cent in 2022.
NETCAP is a group of about 200 large-scale commercial farmers, who together cultivate more than 20,000 hectares (or 50,000 acres) of land producing maize, rice, and soybeans.
In the 2021 cropping year, NETCAP members collectively produced more than 80,000 metric tons of grain.