Editorial: Targeted support for smallholder farmers is imperative

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The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is appealing to be considered in the stimulus package – Coronavirus Alleviation Programme- to enable them go about agriculture production and help improve food security.

PFAG has observed that the stimulus package cannot be accessed by farmers because the criteria required does not qualify them to access it.

Requirements for accessing government’s stimulus package, they note, automatically disqualifies smallholder farmers because they do not register their activities, nor keep records of transactions. Smallholder farmers do not register their businesses and also do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), which are the basic criteria needed to access the fund.

Head of Programmes and Advocacy (PFAG), Charles Kwowe Nyaaba, observed that farming activities were also disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic since, for example, most of them could not sell their products to aggregators who in turn supply to industry, mostly beverage manufacturers.

This is because the slowdown in economic activity and restrictions on movement and mass gatherings, coupled with the lockdown of drinking bars and hotels, have forced manufacturers to either reduce or shutdown production.

PFAG regularly aggregates sorghum and other agricultural produce from farmers and supplies to Guinness Ghana Limited – but it has not been able to do so over the past two months because the latter has cut down production.

Farmers in the three regions of the north – Upper East and West and Northern – mostly produce sorghum as a cash crop and one can fathom what they would be going through as social distancing and the restrictions generally have weighed in on them.

“The whole supply chain is distorted; farmers are not getting this kind of assistance from small businesses and associations. So, all these factors are compelling them to reduce the size of their farms”, Nyaaba notes.

PFAG is therefore calling for targeted support to farmers and this cannot be discounted since we are in the farming season and food security concerns amidst COVID-19 pandemic becomes all the more crucial.

“Front-liners in the health sector have had their share of the national cake, the hospitality industry has also had its share – but as much as all are happy with government’s approach in handling the COVID-19 issue in terms of distributions of items, we are not happy when it comes to the agriculture sector; we are being neglected,” Nyaaba said.

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