Peasant farmers present inputs into 2012 budget statement

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has presented to government a report cataloguing problems of small-scale farmers, and recommendations as part of its inputs into the 2012 national budget statement.

The report dubbed “Input into the 2012 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Ghana,” was the outcome of a two-day training workshop it held for its focal persons across the country on the National Budget Process, as well as a training programme for farmer representatives in eight districts of the Volta Region this year.

Madam Victoria Adongo, Programme Manager of PFAG presented the report to officials of the Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning and the Food and Agriculture in Accra.

Highlights of the report made available to the Ghana News Agency recommended that government should find alternative ways of financing agriculture to ensure that the increasing cost of production brought about by high costs of inputs, land preparation, seeds pesticides amongs others reduced.

It said climate change had dealt a heavy blow to the country’s agricultural industry, which relied mostly on rainfall and recommended that government should rehabilitate the country’s irrigation facilities that had been abandoned all over the country, as well as construct new ones in the Volta, Brong Ahafo, and the three Northern Regions where the bulk of Ghana’s foodstuffs were produced.

It said the subsidy programme be maintained suggesting that part of the oil and gas, and telecommunications tax, and other internally generated funds could be used to support it to ensure its sustainability.

The report said the current ratio of one extension officer to 1200 farmers was inadequate and recommended more funding to the agricultural industries “specifying sector allocation, how much goes into investment and renovation of agricultural training colleges and stations with motivation packages for extension officers to discharge their duties efficiently.

It said agriculture mechanization should not be limited on the use of tractor for land preparation but be expanded to cover other farm activities such as planting, cultivation, harvesting, as well as primary processing such as threshing, shelling and milling.

It said the National Buffer Stock Company should be extended to the remaining five regions; Volta, Western, Central, Eastern and the Greater Accra to ensure food security, stability of the economy and employment for the youth.

It said there was the need for investment on independent researchers in the Shea sector to come up with early yielding varieties to add up to the country’s export crops especially as it had the potential to alleviate poverty among the most marginalized rural women, and uplift the poorest and most deprived parts of the country.

It recommended that the Youth in Agriculture Programme be repackaged to include a legal binding to ensure its sustainability and called for funding for programmes that would ensure effective agri-business in the country.

The report also advocated for the development of a sound and efficient aquaculture value chain system by investing in the construction of ponds and cages with incubator fisheries.

On livestock, it called for more funding for research to come up with disease and weather resistant high yielding varieties as well as the institution of a livestock monitoring, evaluation and support system to ensure that credible information on livestock was available on a continuous basis.

It concluded by recommending that government take a bold step to vote enough funds for research purposes to enable state institutions such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to come up with good crops and animal breeds for all parts of the country.

Receiving the report, Mr Peter Baidoo, Officer in-charge of Input Collection at MOFEP expressed gratitude to PFAG for its efforts at bringing forward the concerns of small-scale farmers and gave the assurance that the inputs would be considered.

Mr Lambert Abusah of the Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Department of MoFA, who received the report on behalf of the Ministry, said it encouraged interest groups to present inputs for consideration when drawing the national budget and thanked PFAG for its efforts at improving conditions of small holder farmers in the country.

Source: GNA

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