Ayeko to our gallant farmers and fishermen despite…


Agriculture’s importance to the economy and the livelihoods of the majority of the rural population cannot be over-stated even though its level of contribution to GDP is declining.

GDP from Agriculture in the country decreased to GHS 8811.46million in the second quarter of 2023 from GHS10.607million in the first quarter of 2023.

GDP from Agriculture averaged GHC 6746.32million from 2006 until 2023, reaching an all-time high of GHS11116.28million in the fourth quarter of 2022 and a record low of GHS2839.67 million in the second quarter of 2006.

Its importance is not only in terms of the contribution to food and nutrition security, but also in providing a basis for agro-industrial activities and for exports. It provides jobs and livelihoods to a significant proportion of the population especially in the rural areas.

The dwindling fortunes of the agriculture sector are largely ascribed to lack of ready market, bad road network to farming communities, lack of safe drinking water in farming areas, unavailability or insufficient farming inputs, and lack of extension service workers to guide farmers.

It provides jobs and livelihoods to a significant proportion of the population especially in the rural areas.

Agriculture is given a high priority in Ghana’s political and socio-economic discourse with the President highlighting the agricultural programme of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) as the flagship of his government.

It is worthy of note that Ghana’s national budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector is still below the target of the Maputo Declaration at about 9.7% currently.

Managing the impacts of climate change is important in addressing the challenge of enhancing productivity in the agricultural sector. It is also important to increase national budgetary and finance flows from bilateral and multi-lateral sources into the agriculture sector to promote widespread adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).

Farmers’ adoption of CSA is an important intervention area that economic planning must cater for.

Market access and access to financial resources to finance their agricultural activities in crops, livestock, fishery and agroforestry, are crucial.

Almost 40 per cent of the working population are still working in agriculture and around one third of the gross domestic product (GDP) is generated through agricultural production. Yet the productivity and product quality of Ghanaian agricultural products are still low and are not always competitive nationally and internationally.

80 per cent of agricultural products in Ghana are currently produced by smallholder farmers. In particular, they often lack resources, financing and marketing contacts.

The country’s potential for the production of internationally sought-after products such as mangoes, cashews, pineapples and spices is not leveraged and the increased food quality demands of the Ghanaian middle-class are also not being met, which is why they often rely on imported goods.

In emerging nations such as Ghana, the dynamic link between interest rate fluctuations, financial growth, and agricultural expansion has not been well examined. Increased access to capital expands the investment options available to farmers and improves their risk management and product development capabilities.

High interest rates, which invariably leads to high credit costs, have the potential to affect agricultural growth. Access to financial support is a major hindrance to agricultural productivity in Ghana.

Government should attempt to diversify and promote exports, especially agricultural exports, to fully exploit the benefits of the sector and promote economic growth.

Currently, a five-day agriculture festival is underway to herald this year’s National Farmers Day which falls on the first Friday of the month of December. Speaking at the National Agricultural Festival – ‘Agrifest 2023’, Finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta underscored government commitment to transformative change in the agricultural sector through deliberate investments.

Mr. Ofori-Atta emphasised that targeted investments are a key component of government’s broader agenda for economic rejuvenation. The finance minister pointed to policies including Planting for Food and Jobs Phase II, as pivotal tools in government’s arsenal to provide substantial support to farmers.

“Through policies like Planting for Food and Jobs Phase II, we aim to provide the needed support for farmers; empowering them to increase their yields and contribute to our vision of food self-sufficiency.”

Government has allocated GHȼ1billion to the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) as part of implementing the second phase of Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ 2.0). This is in line with efforts to implement the Economic Enclaves Project (EEP) – aimed at improving the country’s food security while reducing rising food import bills.

It also seeks to address youth unemployment. This funding will be dedicated to providing critical infrastructure, including irrigation and canals, as well as clearing and developing land for private sector actors in the EEP.

For his part, Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Dr. Bryan Acheampong indicated that his administration is working hard to ensure that the country is food sufficient and resilient by 2028, through a number of measures, including a five-year strategic plan.

As part of activities marking the 39th National Farmers’ Day celebration, Dr. Acheampong said his outfit will build on successes of the first phase, and take the programme to its next level.

PFJ 2.0 is focused on private-sector partnerships that can help provide financing and technical support to farmers, which can improve their productivity and profitability. The success of PFJ Phase II will depend on several factors, including funding, implementation and sustainability.

Also, Dr. Acheampong noted government will from next year, allocate 18 million-day old chicks to farmers, rehabilitate 300 poultry farms, and establish 15 poultry outgrowers, with the aim of boosting local poultry production.

The minister laments that: “we are producing only 5 percent of what we consume when it comes to poultry.”

The 39th National Farmers’ Day will be commemorated with an awards night ceremony at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) in the Western Region, where President Nana Akufo-Addo will honour best-performing farmers and fisher-folk.

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