Can the private sector deliver jobs?

One year into the Akufo Addo-Bawumia administration, the people of Ghana are quietly watching the unfolding events to see how all the flagship programmes will begin to bear fruits for the benefit of all – i.e. the Planting for Food and Jobs, 1D1F and One Village, One Dam programmes.

When it comes to managing the country’s finances, government must be commended for its efforts in consolidating and maintaining fiscal discipline – inspiring confidence in the economy to create the private sector jobs through transparency, policy implementation and intervention. The years ahead are expected to be better and more economically beneficial to the ordinary Ghanaian.

This is the best time for a formidable collaboration between government and the private sector to work for our people’s economic growth and boost international confidence in us, as all the macroeconomic indicators are almost on target. As the economic outlook is very positive, and confidence in the economy is restored, Ghanaians hope that this year and the ones ahead will deliver the jobs promised by government.

Planting for food and jobs, as we are told, is making a lot of impact across the nation; and both young and old people are taking advantage and adding value to our economy.

Agriculture, the core of our economic freedom and growth

Our country over the decades has generated massive revenue through agriculture for the growth and sustenance of our economy. This is the case because the majority-population of the country is into farming, fishing and other forms of agriculture. Research has shown that about 60%-65% of the total population grow on the land or fish the sea.

Unfortunately, the revenue government generates from agriculture has seen a steep decline, and this has slowed the economic growth of our people. Several problems regarding government policy, access to funding or aid for farmers & fishermen – i.e. machinery, technological expertise, training, storage, transportation and a ready market for agricultural produce and products – are what has accounted for this decline.

However, this is not to say that the agricultural sector cannot be revamped to create the jobs, generate the revenues and bring economic growth to the country as a whole. We can realise these gains when government collaborates well with the private sector through positive, transparent and corruption-free policies.

Government must implement a policy intervention that gives agric development aid to farmers & fishermen and enables them to increase their produce so as to trigger big investments as a leverage for private sector partnership. The agric development aid shouldn’t only be in the form of funds but also machinery, pesticide/fertilisers, working tools and training for the farmers and fishermen.

I commend the One Village, One Dam idea of government to make farmland irrigation easy. Though I do not know how the One Village, One Dam Idea will be implemented, I suggest there should be installed pumps and tunnels that reach the farms and prevents the carrying away of water by the local folk. Government should partner with the private sector in using technology during the implementation stages.

Furthermore, a government/private sector partnership should provide storage facilities – both on-site and mobile – for transporting produce to final consumers and for exportation. Most importantly, government must introduce interventions that remove market barriers which the poor farmers face, and improve access to support services to build confidence for growth.

The fast-paced world of technology has brought economic growth to smart, well-positioned economies, and Ghana can only take advantage if government through the private sector implements a robust continuous strategy to have the local expertise developed in the entire supply chain network.

This would involve knowledge-development, use of research & development, local innovation, creativity, foreign/local partnerships, mechanisation and hybrid-seeds, since these have been some of the crucial bottlenecks of the agricultural sector. If these are resolved and agrochemicals and agricultural machinery is used, it will increase private sector investment to provide access onto the world market.

As a nation, we should realise and establish our competitive and comparative advantage, then exploit it fully to bring benefit and economic growth to the people. Governments of most developed nations have successfully implemented policies that today has yielded great results both revenue and job creation for its people.

Recommendations to government

The government of Ghana, just like any of the developing countries, can implement these policy strategies to boost agriculture, increase job-creation and revenue generated. For the government of Ghana to keep the momentum and confidence in the agriculture sector going, these policy interventions must be implemented holistically.

  1. Land Leasing Agreements: there should be comprehensive transparent leasing agreement between the private sector and chiefs/landowners. We have had several instances when farmlands were being disputed and farmers lost their investments.
  2. Removal of Excise Duty/Import Duties: government should remove all excise/import duties on all agricultural machinery, fertilisers and pest-control to motivate the private sector into investing more in machinery and other inputs to boost crop production and harvests. On the other hand, for fishermen and livestock farmers, the same can be done for the outboard motors and fuel (premixed) for them. Storage facilities and veterinary products for the livestock are crucial.
  3. Food Security Systems for fair distribution of food to combat any shortages in the future: Customer and consumers need assurance that prices will be stable and there will be a constant supply to meet demand.
  4. Agriculture Development Loan: Government should collaborate with the central bank to make the universal banks grant loan facilities to farmers/fishermen and the private sector investors. These loans or credit to the farmers/fishermen should come with a moratorium/grace period of between 180-365 days before repayments starts.
  5. Research & Development: Government should collaborate with international partners and educational institution/universities for the exchange and transfer of expertise, technology and new production trends to blend with local practices.

 

Conclusion

I am very confident that should government heed the recommendations made in this write-up, the agricultural private sector will experience an unprecedented boost in food production, job-creation and revenue generation for the massive economic growth our people need.

The agriculture sector’s present and future is in the hands of government: it must implement policies to improve the sector and livelihoods of our people. The right economic environment is key for the private sector to create the jobs we need.

Jerry J. AFOLABI is a financial & Economic expert who believes that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when given the opportunity. He is a Change Maker who believes that Ghana will become a developed nation. He has the ability of easily getting people to get things done for the good of humanity. Email: jelilius@gmail.com/0541238987