In the fight against novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has initiated a process to raise about GH¢60million to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline agriculture workers.
The rationale is to support frontline agriculture workers, encompassing smallholder farmers, agriculture extension agents (AEAs), and community extension volunteers among others to safeguard them in performing their invaluable farm duties during the 2020 farming seasons and beyond.
About 2.6 million smallholder farmers across the country are expected to benefit from the AGRA PPE.
“Health and food security are the two imperatives we need to check under this COVID-19 pandemic period, otherwise it will be disastrous for us; hence the decision to support agriculture frontline workers with PPE,” Foster Boateng, West Africa Head of AGRA, disclosed to B&FT.
He indicated that in the midst of COVID-19 spread and panic, attention has largely drifted toward supporting health workers with PPE – leaving agriculture workers to their fate. Since Ghana recorded its first COVID-19 case in March, government with support from the private sector has made strenuous effort to provide PPE for health workers to combat the virus. As at Tuesday May 5, a total of 276 confirmed cases, 294 recoveries and 18 deaths (Ghana Health Service) have been recorded in the country.
He said the move to support the agriculture workers is in line with the fulcrum of AGRA’s mission and vision to primarily help farmers access improved seeds, fertiliser and enhanced extension services to increase productivity. “For the past ten years, AGRA has embarked on this trajectory to help farmers expand food production.”
Already, AGRA has presented Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) worth GH¢20,000 and seed money of GH¢10,000 to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to help agriculture extension officers and farmers mitigate possible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Boateng appealed for the private sector and meaningful individuals to support the cause by contributing to promote food security in the country. “Government needs to drive its own agriculture agenda, but there is need to support it. Sometimes, government lacks the capacity to mobilise resources to invest into agriculture. It is therefore important for the private sector, civil societies to come on board and support so as to sustain and accelerate agriculture gains to ensure food security.”
He stated that AGRA will stick to its modus operandi of reaching out to farmers and other beneficiaries with the PPE. AGRA has been working through the district Assemblies, district Agric offices, community extension leaders and NGOs like the Catholic Relief Services and Hunger Project, he added.
The West Africa AGRA boss commended the government of Ghana for its efforts to transform agriculture and expand food production over the years. He however urged government not to relent in its effort to consolidate the gains, particularly in the era of COVID-19. “Government must direct more investments into agriculture at this difficult moment, or else all the gains will be eroded. Ghana is well-positioned to produce more and supply to other African countries after COVID-19.”
Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led, Africa-based and farmer-centred institution working to put smallholder farmers at the centre of the continent’s growing economy by transforming their farming from a solitary struggle for survival to a business that thrives.
Its vision is to catalyse and sustain inclusive agriculture transformation in Africa by increasing incomes and improving food security for 30 million smallholder households in Africa, and to support countries on a pathway to attain and sustain an agriculture transformation.