A new book titled Ghana’s Economic and Agricultural Transformation: Past Performance and Future Prospects, posits that public agricultural spending over the period 1961 to 2012, shows that the bulk of the spending has gone into the cocoa subsector, to the neglect of the non-cocoa sector like the country’s food staples.
“Public investment plays a crucial role in promoting agricultural growth and shaping distributional outcomes. In Ghana, agricultural subsectors outside of cocoa—including all the country’s food staples—have been neglected,” says Sam Benin, a chapter author and deputy division director of IFPRI’s Africa Region.
Co-edited by researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the book shows, almost GH₵300 million was spent in the non-cocoa sector, compared to almost GH₵700 million for the cocoa sector. Overall, the researchers found government spending in agriculture to be low-an average of two to three per cent of total government expenditure between 2001 and 2012. This they say, is even below African standards and falls short of the 10 per cent commitment made, when Ghana signed its compact with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2009.
The results, according to researchers has led to Ghana’s inability to compete with imports like rice, poultry, and processed foods, or to grow additional agricultural exports beyond cocoa.
Generally, these two commodities (rice and poultry) continue to experience a surge in imports annually.
According to Ghana Export Promotion Authority, The nation’s value of rice imports has escalated eight-fold in seven years from $152 million in 2007 to a peak of $1.2 billion in both 2014 and 2015. In addition, in a May 2019 article on myjoyonline.com, the Minister for Agriculture, Afriyie Akoto was quoted to have said that Ghana currently imports about $1.5 billion worth of rice.
In the poultry market too, imported frozen chicken, largely from Europe, has been reported as taking over the business of domestic farmers. A feature article on ghanabusinessnews.com in 2011, reported that, the country imported frozen chicken from the EU, USA and Brazil, worth $200 million in 2010. A June 2019 report by German broadcaster DW on Ghana’s poultry market, shows the country in 2017 imported 95 per cent of its chicken, with only five per cent backed by domestic production.
“Business was booming, especially from broiler production. And then these days, we have challenges because of the imported chicken. The competition is very high,” Augustine Amankwaah, a poultry farmer, who was described as ‘one of Ghana’s last poultry farmers,’ said in the video report.
“This failure to enhance exports or import substitutes means the country is missing out on creating jobs, boosting national per capita income, absorbing a growing labour force and enabling more workers to shift out of traditional agriculture,” the book indicated.
In as much as overall, funding in the non-cocoa sector is insufficient, researchers agree there has been a recent rebound in spending in that area through expansion of subsidy programmes, such as the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
“Given current macroeconomic imbalances, agricultural investments increasingly need to be more strategic and focused, with potential for long-term impacts,” the book said.
By Gifty Danso
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