Creating jobs in agriculture- ready market for sustainability
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank in a 2015 article on the subject,: Unlocking Africa’s Potential to create wealth from Agriculture wrote- ‘ there is an unbelievable contrast today in Africa ;How can a continent with such an abundance of arable land, water and sunshine annually import food worth USD35billion?”….This must Change
The Ghana situation is not very different from the African observation. Ghanaians more often than not do not consume agriculture goods produced locally. We applaud Government’s effort in recognizing that Ghana cannot make it to the next stage of development without agriculture. In as much as we applaud, there is lots of work to be done in unlocking Ghana’s potential in creating wealth from Agriculture.
Agriculture is as lucrative as every business venture; to sieve wealth from agriculture, like every business; there is the need for a ready market for goods produced. Without an available market, supply will be high against low demand with effect on commodity pricing, at the expense of the farmer. A ready market is characterized by the willingness of consumers to purchase locally produced goods other than an alternative, and this is an agriculture wealth creation principle.
Our food market is choked with the influx of agriculture imported good inhibiting the survival of the locally produced ones. Locally produced poultry faces stiff competition with imported frozen foods even when the prices of imported frozen poultry increases, locally produced Rice versus imported rice, super market in sell imported food vegetables at high prices yet our local vegetables are overlooked for the pricy ones. Why? Because segment of consumers with high purchasing power have their taste bud accustomed to the imported agric goods making it difficult to choose ones produced locally. How then is the farmer motivated to enhance production and produce on large scale when it is just a handful that’s ready to buy?
The way forward
Effective market structures identified as behavioural change will never come through legislation alone. Steps need to be taken to effectively build up the market structure so that it actually provides value proposition to farmers that can be materially realized
The bigger picture however, is to create equitable and efficient markets for commoditized foodstuffs. In creating the ready market, there is the need for financing of small holder farms. The planting for food and jobs campaign should focus largely on improving small holder farms to expand and produce to standard. When locally produced agriculture goods meet standard, it will be able to compete stiffly with imported goods on the market. The detailed focus needs to be on post-production and creating the pipeline for aggregate supply. When farmers are aware of the readiness of consumers to purchase produced goods, there is eventually willingness and desire to learn and implement improved agriculture techniques to enhance production.
There is also the need to create a convergence arena where farmers and traders meet to trade in quality and fairness. The middle men approach is part of the factors inhibiting the creation of ready market, they hoard goods in order to increase price and this leads to the consumer depending on the alternative i.e imported goods. Financial institutions on the other hand should also endeavor to support the country’s agriculture sector and consider agriculture in their corporate social responsibility activities.
Sustained, sensitization initiatives around the country must also be employed involving media, to reach target groups in creating ready market for locally produced agriculture goods.
The private sector also has a role to play in ensuring there is ready market for agriculture, It is in this direction that the National food and Agriculture (FAGRO) in partnership with Yara Ghana this year, under the theme “Creating Jobs in Agriculture – Northern region in focus” attempts to work with its large and diverse stake holder group to develop strategies and work to ensure that farmers around the country tap into the benefits of Agricultural commercialization, through the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs Agenda. It is expected to create enormous networking opportunities for players in the sector.
Last year, the current Northern Regional Minister, Hon. Salifu Saeed, took part in our business plan writing boot camp for agribusiness players on the sidelines of FAGRO at the trade fair centre, and he has not stopped talking about how it has been beneficial. Ghana is blessed with vast arable lands; let us ensure we eat what we grow…