Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, says implementation of the government’s flagship programme ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) has been a tremendous success.
He said the PFJ policy, which was introduced by government three years ago to address the declining growth in the country’s agricultural sector, has led to the sector’s growth and transformation.
Dr. Akoto stated this on Tuesday in Accra when he took his turn at the Meet the Press Series to give an account of the state of the nation’s agriculture, and reiterated that the PFJ is achieving its objectives.
The minister said statistics are available to show the tremendous performance of the nation’s agriculture sector.
He cited the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) 2019 Global Food Security Index (GFSI), which ranked Ghana 59th out of 113 countries.
The country was ranked 73rd out of 113 countries in 2018.
He said according to the EIU’s report, the total performance score improved from 50.9 percent in 2018 to 68.2 percent in 2019 – representing 0.3 percent improvement.
The figures, derived from the annual baseline model, indicate that the country recorded key strengths in the presence and quality of food safety-net programmes as the planting for food and jobs initiative scored 100 percent; change in average food costs, 97 percent; food safety 81.2 percent; urban absorption capacity 91.2 percent; and volatility of agricultural production, 95.5 percent.
He said the report placed Ghana at third-best in sub-Saharan Africa in 2019, with South Africa and Botswana scoring first and second respectively.
Dr. Akoto noted the report said when it comes to food availability Ghana placed second to South Africa with a score of 61.7 percent.
He said year on year food inflation decreased from 9.7% in 2016 to 7.2% in 2019, with a positive impact on overall inflation.
With regard to the impact of food production on wholesale market prices, the minister said overall food prices declined significantly in 2019 compared to 2018.
“There was a twenty percent average decrease for maize, rice and sorghum; 38 percent decrease for groundnuts, cowpea and soyabean; and 45 percent average decrease for cassava and plantain.”
He said the lower prices imply increased disposable incomes for consumers and reduced food inflation – food inflation reduced from 9.7 percent in 2018 to 7.2 percent in December 2019.
Other key interventions by government in the agriculture sector include the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) module; Food and Crops module; Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) module; Agricultural Mechanisation Services Centres (AMSECs) module; and the Green Village Module.
With regard to challenges facing the agriculture sector, Dr. Akoto mentioned smuggling of subsidised inputs such as fertilisers; limited production of improved seeds (hybrid maize, sorghum, groundnuts); and limited budgetary resources to scale-up interventions and reach more farmers.
To mitigate these challenges, the minister said there is now branding of 25 kg fertiliser bags; adding that regional ministers are administering fertilisers, engaging security agencies and restricted distribution in four regions.
With regard to improved seeds, he said the ministry is importing from the ECOWAS sub-region in the short-term and developing local capacity.
On limited budgetary allocation to the sector, Dr. Akoto said the ministry is exploring other sources of funding from development agencies.