Agric is biggest growth driver—Ken Thompson
The Managing Director of Dalex Finance, Ken Thompson, says the surest way for any government to spur growth in the economy is to invest heavily in the agric sector.
Mr. Thompson reckons that there is a major and growing opportunity for Africa and Ghana in agri-business, especially in an era of diversification.
“Private sector and agriculture are the way to go. We don’t want government in business. Government create the right incentives and we will invest,” he said.
The country’s agricultural sector, which continues to be the anchor of the economy, has not performed well in recent years. In the past eight years, the annual rate of growth of the sector has declined from 7.4 percent in 2008 to 2.4 percent in 2015. This is below the six percent annual growth target set out in the Maputo Deceleration of 2003.
Again, the increase in the country’s population has quadrupled to 28.4million by the beginning of 2017, from 6.7million in 1957, necessitating the need to increase local food production.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has pledged to pursue a “full agriculture value chain” strategy, to create jobs in the areas of storage, transportation, processing, packaging and marketing of agricultural produce.
“Government will pursue a value addition strategy aimed at rapidly developing new and stable market for farmers,” the president said whilst opening the 68th Annual New Year School in Accra, under the theme ‘Promoting National Development Through Agricultural Modernisation: The Role of ICT.”
He added that: “We need to generate more wealth in the agriculture sector to be able to improve the livelihoods of farmers and fisher folks and help grow the national economy.”
To achieve the above, Mr. Thompson said government should make sure that there are fertilisers for the farmers, improved seeds, subsidies get to farmers, and the government should also ensure that lending rates for the sector is right.
“It is very simple, make sure you don’t build the roads in Accra. Build the infrastructure in the rural areas so that when the farmers grow crops, the food can get to Accra. That is what we should do and the private sector will invest.” he told B&FT in an exclusive interview.
Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has also stated that government plans to launch a national campaign to be christened “Planting for Food and Jobs,” to encourage all citizens, both urban and rural, to take up farming as a full or part time activity.
The campaign, he said, will involve the production of maize, rice, soybean, sorghum and vegetables, structured along the lines of the erstwhile ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ programme of the 1970s. Other crops, he said, will be adopted in subsequent years.
Large multi-national companies have expressed their readiness to invest in the country’s agricultural sector given the government’s pro-business approach.