GIPC dialogues with CEOs …on attracting investment for agricultural sector

Yofi Grant CEO of GIPC

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), as part of its 2nd quarter ‘Ghana on the Go CEO’s breakfast meeting’, hosted CEOs and Business leaders to discuss innovative ways of financing commercial agriculture.

Themed ‘Innovative Financing for Commercial Agriculture’, the event sought to discuss other models available in order to make the agricultural sector attractive and lucrative.

According to CEO of the GIPC, Yofi Grant: “Over the period, people have been happier putting their money in trade and commerce because agriculture is the kind of industry where you need patience. And, also, because a lot of agriculture has been subsistence and not scientific we are not able to predict and determine the output in a very structured, constructive way”.

He added that: “The whole value chain of agriculture is very fragmented. So, if you are investing you still face challenges of distribution – especially with the road systems and non-refrigerated trucks. It creates a bit of a difficulty for investors in the industry”.

In line with this, the government of Ghana – represented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in collaboration with the World Bank and USAID – is currently implementing the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP).

The Project became effective on 8th April 2013 and is financed by the World Bank and USAID.

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The project development objective is to improve agricultural productivity and production of both smallholder and nucleus farms in selected project intervention areas, through increased access to reliable water, land, finance and agricultural input and output markets.

This, according Yofi Grant, is in line with government’s priorities in the pursuit of poverty reduction, and is consistent with Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II, 2007). He added that it is also aligned to the Medium-Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP 2010-2015).

The Project’s focus is on the entire commodity value chains of maize, rice, soya-bean, fruits
and vegetables. The thematic areas of the GCAP project include strengthening investment promotion infrastructure, improved access to land, improved access to reliable water, inclusive commercial agriculture, and effective project coordination.

According to Mr. Grant, agriculture is one of the areas that make the country thrive and therefore we need to break the investment barrier in order to make it more attractive.

He noted that there are significant opportunities to invest in Ghana which could go a long way to curb the importation of goods and commodities such as rice and sugar.

He said: “If we spent US$2.2billion importing food when we have over eight million hectares of arable land lying fallow in the Northern part of Ghana, it doesn’t tell a good story of us. We can easily become a bread-basket for the sub-region. We have no excuse not to farm the land. We need to the right thing. There are opportunities here in the agricultural sector”.

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Yofi Grant cited technology as one of the ways of improving the agricultural sector to attract investors. He said there’s a lot more that can be done with technology – like predicting climate and helping farmers understand climate change and weather conditions.

This, he says, will increase yield and also prevent planting and harvesting at the wrong time. He further explained that the use of technology could help in predicting pests and disease attacks, as well as efficient control measures.

Mr. Grant added that: “We need to work harder by improving scientific methods in the farm and the quantity of fertiliser we use. We can take advantage of producing organic fertiliser. There is a huge opportunity in transporting this farm produce as well. All these will contribute to development of the agricultural sector. Railways will make it easier to access markets and movement”.

He also said insuring farmers in the country will enable them to be confident about all they do, adding that most of them are small holders and more than 90% of farms in Ghana are not larger than two hectares.

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