Private Enterprises Foundation calls for Agric Fund

The Private Enterprises Foundation (PEF) has proposed the establishment of an Agriculture Fund for accelerated economic growth.

The Director General of PEF, Dr Osei Boeh-Ocansey, said agriculture, which is the single largest contributor to GDP, is operating at about 20 per cent capacity.

Dr Boeh-Ocansey was speaking at a Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) sponsored retreat for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture, private sector actors in agriculture and other stakeholders in Accra on Monday.

They discussed financing for the sector and also lobby the Members of Parliament (MPs) to lay the bill on the fund and eventually pass it into law.

He said government’s budgetary allocation to the sector was inadequate.

Dr Boeh-Ocansey called for the modernization of agriculture but noted that credit allocation to the sector by financial institutions was equally limited.

He said in the 1980s government intervention in the banking sector ensured that priority was given to the sector with banks mandated to have a minimum of 20 per cent of total loans to the agric sector.

Dr Boeh-Ocansey said it was against this background that the PEF made a proposal as part of the 2008 budget to government to set up the fund and suggested a management board devoid of politics to see to its disbursement.

Mr Isaac Owusu-Mensah, Senior Programme Manager of KAS, said the Agriculture Fund was long overdue and appealed to the MPs to push the bill into law.

He said limitations in the sector were the same 20 years ago and appealed to the government to “take the bull by the horns” as it had done with the Value Added Tax (VAT), GETfund and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Mr Owusu-Mensah said even though taxes were increased to fund the GETFund and NHIS the benefits were there for all to see and enjoy and therefore called on government to see to the establishment of the Agriculture Fund to move the sector and the nation forward.

In a speech read on his behalf Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Tia Sugri, said the sector plan was at its final stage and would be made to attract investors.

Dr Yakubu Alhassan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture, lauded the KAS/PEF Initiative and said it was pertinent to subsidize farming and make it lucrative and also enable framers to compete with colleague farmers elsewhere in the world who are supported by their governments.

He said government’s support to the sector had not been enough and pledged the committee’s commitment to push for the passage of the bill once it is laid before the house.

The President of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners’ Association, Mr Philip Abayori, said the country depended on donor support to drive the sector yet it had not derived the needed boost to make farmers, fishermen and the agro industry succeed.

He said low credit to the private sector was a major constraint while interventions by government had been abysmal.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.