The 2018 census of agriculture needs further stakeholder engagement in order to gather the required data relevant for transformation of the sector, says MBC Africa – an agric-focused civil society organisation.
“The Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MoFA) census of agriculture must bring everybody in agriculture onboard. There should be stakeholder meetings at assembly, district and regional levels. This will add to the efficiency and credibility of this exercise,” Tenemba Anna Samaké, Chief Executive Officer of MBC Africa, said in an interview with the B&FT.
Speaking ahead of the 2018 edition of the MBC Africa-organised ‘Growing Business Together (GBT) programme’ – a start-up accelerator designed for SMEs – Ms. Samaké noted that no official from MoFA or the statistical service has contacted them to contribute to the census.
“No one was contacted in my circles about the agric census, and I am talking about other agric-focused civil society organisations, farmer-based organisations and cooperatives, and farmers directly. We have players along the entire value chain of agric, and none of them have told us they have been contacted by the ministry or statistical services about the census,” she said.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in June this year, officially launched the 2018 Ghana Census of Agriculture at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region. The census, which was conducted from April 30, 2018 to July 31, 2018, is a collaboration between the Ghana Statistical Service and MoFA, with technical support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
But experts at MBC Africa believe that the exercise could be dead on arrival if critical stakeholders are not involved to proffer their views and contributions.
“If you do not have data or information, you cannot propose solutions to challenges. We collect the data to know the right perception of farmers, and then we can tailor solutions to meet their real needs. The problem is that there will be a result and it will not reflect the real situation on the ground,” Ms. Samaké added.
Fred Asem, Country Director of MBC Africa, added that the census could have successfully run alongside the maiden season of the Planting for Food and Jobs, which could have saved government a lot of money and resources.
“We do not even know how much it costs to undertake this census. Also, if this census was run alongside the Planting for Food and Jobs we could easily be collecting real-time data and save the economy a lot more money.
“This is because once farmers come in for fertilisers, then you can easily gather that data. MoFA could have easily collected first-hand data on the entire value chain via this approach,” he added.
The agric census is expected to help collect, process and disseminate information on the nature and structure of agriculture, and availability of agricultural and social services in agricultural communities. It will also inform the formulation of strategies and policies, as well as monitoring and evaluation of such policies in the agricultural sector.
The last Census of Agriculture in the country was conducted about 33 years ago. An Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee – headed by the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto – is to ensure successful implementation of the census and establish the institutional foundation for regular censuses.
The ‘Growing Business Together’ (GBT) programme includes mentorship and business development training that helps entrepreneurs in the SME space to put in place good principles, practices and procedures for business growth and sustainability.