Some Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the agricultural sector have urged government to provide subsidises for agricultural imports and create practical policies which will make funding easily accessible to businesses in the sector, ahead of the mid-year budget presentation on Thursday.
Government in its 2021 budget stated that under the Ghana Cares Programme, there would be an extended support of GH¢1.5million from a previous amount of GH¢1.2million to farmers under the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme (PFJ) for the procurement of fertiliser, seeds, extensive services among others. Government further stated that it would support farmers through the Rearing for Food and Jobs programme (RFJ) as well as arrange financing facilities for poultry farmers and rice-millers.
It is against this background that CEO of Green Gold Social Enterprise, Clement McThomason, is urging government to create practical policies which make funding easily accessible to agri-businesses as well as provide subsidises for agricultural imports.
“The main thing for the sector is policy development. If government is able to create policies which make funding accessible to farmers at the grassroots, then there is progress. There are some government grants out there which only benefit agricultural processing companies; this doesn’t benefit the one doing the actual farming, and that is the problem.
“If we’re focusing more on the processor, what happens to the one who produces the raw materials; how is he going to scale-up where he is farming? I think this is what government needs to be doing when they’re disbursing some of these grants which are going to SMEs. They should use the local agriculture officers because they know the real farmers,” he said
He added: “The other thing is that the imports are actually killing local businesses. I believe that necessity drives innovation, and it looks like we spend more time saying something is not available and as a result import too much of it… and the local market is kicked out. If government puts in some financing to subsidise some of the agricultural imports, as the ones already subsidised are not readily available on the market, it will go further in scaling-up the sector,” he said.
Another agri-business owner, Yahaya Abdulai – owner of AY Farms, added that for a sector that is the backbone of the nation’s development, more than just promises are needed.
“The sector is being affected by the high rise in prices of raw materials, and if nothing is done about it many farms are going to shut down; thus contributing to the high rate of unemployment in the country.
“A lot more attention should be given to the sector in terms of funding and subsidising costs, as many in the poultry arena of agriculture are facing many challenges. And with the advent of bird-flu, if government doesn’t intervene a lot of poultry farms will shut down,” he said.