Agricultural funding is the missing link

Africa annually imports US$40billion worth of food, with Ghana importing US$2billion of food products yearly. According to the Director-General of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, Gunther Beger, the future of mankind will be decided in the rural areas.

“Professionalisation and the sustainable intensification of agriculture is a key factor in reducing poverty and hunger”. Gunther Beger made this revealing statement last week when his outfit entered into a strategic partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to combat hunger, create jobs and raise incomes in rural Africa.

The Special Initiative, dubbed ‘One world-No hunger’, will see Germany contribute €10million to co-finance AGRA’s five-year development strategy (2017-2021) and increase productivity, combat hunger, create jobs and raise incomes of 1.2 million smallholder farmers in Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Ghana’s first year of ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ raked in an impressive GH¢1.2billion in crop value, which translates to US$270,276,000 and created 745,000 jobs. AGRA is generally impressed with this development, and believes we are showing the way to proceed.

This Paper is particularly enthused that special attention will be paid to women and youth, who are the majority rural population involved in farming.

At a recent agri-business confab in Accra, panelists pushed for setting up an Agricultural Development Authority to regulate the production and marketing of agricultural produce, so that needed investments can be attracted to the sector.

This, they believe, will serve as some form of protection system to give the sector a boost and enable investors put in their money. There is need for an enabling environment that enables farmers and other stakeholders in agribusiness to access money in a competitive manner.

The panelists used the example of established development authorities like the NPA and the NCA, citing the resources they have been able to marshal as the result of establishing an apex body. Hence – as a player in the agri-business sector – he believes that as important as agriculture is to any economy, the country must consider the establishment of such an authority.

There is no doubt that a critical impediment to agriculture development is lack of funding, and we must seek innovative ways to capitalise the sector. The ADB was designed to carry out that role, but it has been preoccupied with commercial banking since the rewards are far greater.