Stakeholders call for increase in smallholder agriculture investments
Stakeholders in agriculture on Wednesday appealed to Government to increase investments in the smallholder agricultural sub-sector, to improve food production and eliminate poverty among Ghanaians.
They were participating in the opening session of the National Conference on Smallholder Agricultural Development Financing, in Accra.
It was organised by SEND-Ghana in collaboration with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture, Ghana Federation of Agricultural Producers, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana and Agricultural Platform of Ghana Aid Effectiveness Forum.
It is on the theme; “Investing in Smallholder Agriculture; The Ultimate Policy Choice for Ghana,” and expected to highlight critical challenges faced by smallholder sub-sector to help attract policy attention.
They underscored the critical role of the sub-sector to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), because women constituted a vast majority of players in this sector.
The participants said increased government investment in terms of budgetary allocation to agriculture was critical to increasing rural income and food security.
Mr Samuel Zan Akologu, Country-Director of SEND-Ghana, a research and advocacy organisation, speaking at the event, said it was ironic that in spite of the nearly universal acceptance of the potential effect of agriculture and the fact that more than 70 per cent of Africa’s population earn a living through agriculture, the sector was still characterised by low productivity.
Mr Akologu said that agriculture was the predominant economic activity in Ghana and Africa, where the poor and greater number of the labour force were engaged in agriculture.
He said the sector’s growth offered a potential model for spearheading broad-based poverty reduction and increased food security in the country.
Mr Akologu stressed that a prosperous agriculture generated growth linkages to the rest of the economy, providing cheap food, raw materials, and a growing demand for growing processing and service industries.
“Participants are expected to collate views and propose strategies on modalities for financing and establishing budget lines for smallholder agricultural development, develop a proposal on their financing and secure the commitment of government to increase and sustain resource flows to the smallholder sub-sector,” he said.
Mr Akologu enumerated challenges such as the decline in soil fertility, unfavourable market liberalisation policies, high interest rates as well as limited access to financing, post harvest loses and poor access to and use of technology that were hindering progress in smallholder performances.
He challenged Government and its development partners to rededicate themselves to the enforcement of the Maputo Declaration of committing at least 10 per cent of budgetary allocation to agriculture.
Nii Amasah Namoale, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of Fisheries, highlighted specific policies which sought to enhance agriculture in Ghana.
He said Government placed agriculture at the core of its development agenda and was committed to enhancing capacities in the sector to ensure maximum impact.
Nii Namoale called for enhanced public-private partnership to revamp the agricultural sub-sector and urged financial institutions to expand their services to smallholder farmers to help increase production and ensure quality packaging to meet the current market demand and competition.
Mrs Dorothy Onny, Deputy Director in-charge of Gender Desk, Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, said the Ministry had developed policies and programmes including capacity building of smallholder women farmers, providing micro-financing as well as the provision of processing plants to improve market quality of products.
She said the Ministry had in addition, encouraged the development of gender responsive budgeting and ensured that gender issues were mainstreamed into policies and programmes at all levels in the country.