US$2b needed to complete agric &industrial value chain – ADI

Ghana needs not less than US$2billion to enable it fully complete the agriculture and industrialization value chain. This would help the country to develop its raw material base, add value to its products and remain competitive on the export market, says the Alliance for Development and Industrialisation (ADI), a policy think-tank.

ADI is very optimistic that this support to the agro and industry sector would help to stem the speedy depreciation of the country’s fiat currency, the cedi.

The country’s industry is about 80 percent agriculture based, on small to medium enterprises which could be scaled-up just like the farmer inputs: “So we can add value to modern emerging non-traditional commodities such as cashew, dry mangoes, dry pineapples, avocado, coconut, sweet potato among others, and also expansion of the coca processing industry; then we can see the whole agriculture and industrialisation value chain fully completed” disclosed the ADI.

ADI believes an expanded and reliable production of agricultural produce will form a very important base for the industrialisation drive, create modern jobs, expand the exports base, and reduce the amount of foreign exchange spent on food imports.

The ADI is calling on the Ministry of finance and the Bank of Ghana as matter of urgency to issue US$2billion bonds to support this initiative for both short- and long-term commodities. The bonds would be preferably be sourced from both local and international markets.

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Ghana spends over US$2billion every year importing food.  For example, the country imports over a billion dollars of rice, US$320million of sugar, and US$374million of poultry. Most of these could be produced here, creating jobs and saving foreign exchange.

According to the ADI, the US$2 billion investment into the agriculture sector would improve the income levels of rural people, since there is an industrial and international demand for their non-traditional commodities such as sweet potato, avocado, tiger nuts among others.

“We are also asking the International Donor Agencies to support farmers that are into coconut farming, sweet potato, vegetables etc., as it would save the economy since demand from Europe is on the rise.”

In Ghana, about 34 percent of the country’s workforce is in agriculture. “Therefore, if we can raise productivity and incomes in agriculture, we can positively impact the lives of millions of Ghanaians,” the statement said.

Following a year of implementing the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJs) Programme, the agricultural sector witnessed a growth rate of 8.4 percent in 2017. This was after almost a decade of erratic sector performance, with an average growth rate of 3.4 percent. For 2019, the Agriculture Sector is expected to grow by 7.3 percent.

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Government implemented an expanded version of the PFJ in 2018 with more ambitious targets. Compared with a target of 500,000 farmers, a total of 577,000 farmers were supplied with subsidised fertilisers and seeds for the 2018 cropping season.

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