Send-Ghana launches report on agricultural sector

An agricultural budget tracking research report has recommended that government should go beyond the rhetoric of supporting smallholder agricultural development and come out with a special investment fund to cater for smallholder farmers.

It noted that specific budgetary allocations which tackle only smallholder agricultural development should be pursued by the government.

Professor Ramatu Mahama Alhassan, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Ghana, Legon, reviewed and launched the report on Wednesday in Accra.

Employing proxy indicators, a survey was conducted among 407 households drawn from 22 districts in Greater Accra, Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions.

Send-Ghana, a non-governmental organization, commissioned the study last year to assess the government’s compliance with the commitment to increase expenditure on the agricultural sector and to determine the extent to which budget allocations reflected on investment in the sector, especially smallholder agricultural development.

The study involved an analysis of the government’s expenditure trends on the agriculture sector between 2000 and 2008 and measured the extent to which smallholder agricultural development had benefited from budgetary allocations since the Maputo Declaration of African countries allocating 10 per cent of national budgetary resources to develop the sector was made in 2003.

The report indicated that Ghana must redefine the Maputo Declaration so that the 10 per cent threshold should exclude recurrent expenditure. It also proposed that subsidies should be viewed as investment intervention aimed at building the production capacity of small producers to graduate them into medium and large scale production.

It further noted that civil society organizations must take the issue of agricultural budget tracking as entry point to demand accountability from government through monitoring and evaluation of agricultural policies to ensure that the livelihoods of small producers were prioritized and well executed in consultation with farmers.

Among the findings of the study were that since 2003, the government had systematically increased budgetary allocation to agriculture sector and that in 2006, the country reached the compliance level with the Maputo Declaration, devoting 10.32 per cent of national budget to agriculture.

“This notwithstanding, expenditure on the sector fell below 10 per cent in 2007 and rose above 10 per cent in 2008, given an average of nine per cent of national budget resources being devoted to the agricultural sector between 2003 and 2008.”

On the basis of regional analysis, the study found disparities in budgetary allocations to the disadvantage of major food crop producing areas namely Upper East Upper West, Northern and Brong Ahafo regions.

Between 2002 and 2008, these regions received three per cent, three per cent, seven per cent and another three per cent of allocations to the sector in that order.

Prof. Alhassan commended the Send-Ghana research team for a “job well done” and recommended the report to all stakeholders involved in agricultural policy processes and to civil society organisations for their advocacy work.

Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo, Country Director, Send-Ghana, said the report should serve as a wake-up call for government to get its priorities right, especially “in these days of the lure of oil and to Parliament to serve as a basis for articulating their views and formulating policies, among others.

Dr. Cheryl Gopaul, Senior Governance Advisor, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), stressed the need for Ghana to support smallholder farmers to increase food production by broad range of interrelated policy measures to achieve food security.

Among those present at the launch were Members of Parliament including Mr. Kofi Clement Humado, Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Poverty Reduction, and representatives of the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Finance and Economic Planning, Local Government and Rural Development and Trade and Industry who all expressed support and commended Send-Ghana for the study.

Source: GNA

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