Agriculture sector needs strategic investment plan – Dr Ackah
Dr Ishmael Ackah, the Head of Energy Policy Unit at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has called on government to develop an agriculture investment plan that would yield meaningful returns to the country’s economy.
He said the existence of an agriculture investment plan would ensure that resources would be channelled into strategic segments of the sector which would yield fruitful returns.
Dr Ackah said government, over the years, has made huge allocations to the agriculture sector, but has received little returns due to the absence of a lack of strategic investment plan.
He said in the 2014 agriculture budget for instance, about 70 per cent of it went into the construction of four sea defence wall projects, instead of food crop production, hence the dwindling fortunes in the sector.
Dr Ackah expressed these concerns at a stakeholders’ forum held in Takoradi on the 2016 budget statement’s allocations to the agriculture sector, organized by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) in collaboration with SEND-Ghana (Social Enterprises Development Foundation.)
The event brought together small-holder farmers from the Eastern, Central and Western Regions who deliberated on the agriculture component of the budget.
Dr Ackah highlighted that over the years, growth in the agriculture sector has declined, recording growth of 7.4 per cent in 2008 followed with 7.2 per cent, 5.3 per cent and 0.8 per cent in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
However, he said, it went up again in 2012 to 2.3 percent, 5 per cent in 2013 and then reverted to its declining trend, recording 4.6 per cent in 2014 and 0.04 per cent in 2015.
He said the government was replacing its normal allocation to the agriculture sector with oil revenues allocation as determined by the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), and explained that the oil revenues allotted to the sector were supposed to complement government’s usual allocations and not to replace it.
Dr Ackah said the government should adopt cost-effective measures such as the use of solar panels for irrigation projects in the sector to increase food crop production.
Mr Charles Nyaaba, Programmes Officer of PFAG, took participants through some of the challenges confronting the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile, Madam Aisha Mohammed, the Programmes Officer of SEND-Ghana, said suggestions and concerns from the participants would be collated and used to advocate for reforms in the agriculture sector.