President Nana Akufo-Addo has described the agricultural sector’s share of banks’ loan books as not enough, insisting that they must do more in terms of lending to agribusinesses.
He said there are 3.5 million farmers in the country, but the level of credit that goes into financing cultivation activities is not only discouraging but the lowest in West Africa.
During a panel discussion at the just-ended Presidential Breakfast Meeting in Accra organised by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), aimed at addressing agribusiness players’ financing concerns, it was revealed that Fidelity Bank has 10 percent of its loan portfolio going to agriculture; Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) 24 percent; Ghana Commercial Bank 25 percent; and 27 percent for Opportunity International.
Reacting to this, President Akufo-Addo said: “I acknowledge all your contributions, but your efforts are only scratching the surface of the crisis in the agricultural sector”.
He said the role of institutional funds and relative apportionment of credit should be matters that need to be conceded – highlighting that 35 percent goes to the service sector, 11 percent to manufacturing and just 3 percent going agriculture.
Speaking on ‘poor credit culture’ in agriculture, Akufo-Addo expressed displeasure on the poor credit culture that has restrained the flow of funds from financial institutions to the private sector.
“I am very distressed, concerned about the poor credit culture and measures that we need to take to improve it. I have no doubt that more can be done in that direction, so we can accelerate discussions there.”
Nonetheless, the president agreed that all stakeholders need to come together and make an effort to shape the economy; and if that is not done, the country will continue to scrabble around.
Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Bryn Acheampong, also commenting on the challenges facing agriculture, indicated credit remains the main problem.
He said that lack of access to credit for procurement of seeds, fertiliser, working capital and other agricultural inputs impedes farmers’ ability to expand their operations.
According to Dr. Acheampong, Planting for Food and Jobs-02 (PFJ 2) has been reviewed and transformed into an input credit system.
He said that to achieve this, a five-year plan has been made to move the country’s self-sufficiency from 5 percent to 7 percent by end of 2023; and to 13 percent by 2024 – and hopes to attain full self-sufficiency by 2028.
However, to attain these stated targets, the minister outlined the following – supply of 4.5million day-old chicks, vaccines and starter-pack feed to farmers and their growers.
Dr. Acheampong said this intervention will lead to the production of an additional 13,200 metric tonnes (MT) of poultry meat by end of this year.
“We will ramp up this support to 18 million day-old chicks, vaccines and starter-pack feed, which will lead to the production of 42,600 MT of meat and increase our self-sufficiency to 13 percent,” he noted.
He further indicated that the ministry is also rolling out specific interventions to increase local rice production and reduce importation. “The nation’s targets attaining rice self-sufficiency in 2028 with a total paddy production of 3.31 million MT of milled rice.”