Professor Joseph Yaro, a Researcher at the University of Ghana, has said agriculture policies intended to enhance small holder farming should tackle more of the distribution components of the value-chain.
He components, he said should include; dealing with transportation, processing, storage, pricing and harmonising relations to marketing.
Prof Yaro was presenting a research finding at the opening of a two-day Ghana Food System Conference in Accra.
The conference organised by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Multimedia Group, General Agricultural Workers Union and Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) was on the theme: “The small holder farmers in Ghana’s food system.”
The conference was aimed at bringing together different actors in the agriculture value-chain to deliberate on refining agriculture policies in Ghana to promote a supportive business environment, diversified production and production for local markets alongside traditional cash crop.
He said government had done well in the implementation of the policies for the sector but most of these were only directed to input supply.
He said food system of the country had changed dramatically in line with changing global and national exigencies with small holder farmers navigating their way within these changes often with lots of difficulty in production and marketing.
He said the distribution system was promising as the catalyst of growth for both agriculture and industry with huge employment potentials and government policies needed to necessarily incorporate aspects that reduced the threat of international trade and its rules and regulations on the country’s agriculture.
Prof Taro said the agriculture value-chain needed regulations from the national level that sought to help farmers, purchasing agents and factories and therefore, called on government to streamline the exploitative arrangement that enslaved local small producers.
“We need an ‘Eat Ghana Act’, which makes sure that State resources are only used to purchase locally produced food items,” he added.
Dr Solomon Gyan-Ansah, the Deputy Director for Crop Service of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, commended the organisers for the initiative to find some answers to the challenges facing the sector.
He said this year the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme would focus more on packaging and marketing with a lot more farmers benefiting from the programme and government would ensure that improved seeds were supplied to farmers to increase their yields.
Mr Abdul-Rahman Mohammed, the National President of PFAG, said the role of small-holder farmers was very important as they provided more than 80 per cent of the food produce for domestic consumption, for industry and for export and the Association was currently working towards farmer’s credit union, the first in Africa and would soon launch.
He said with funding support from Open Society Foundation and OXFAM in Ghana, the Association had engaged researchers to investigate the problems in the sector and recommended new ways to address them.
He commended past and present governments for various initiatives, interventions and policies to transform the agricultural sector.