Budget review must address post-harvest, climate, nutrition and pastoral issues

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Ahead of this year’s mid-year budget review, the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), together with its partners have called on government to ensure that the budget promote Agriculture for the benefit of the smallholder farmer and ensure increase investment in irrigation facilities for increased livestock and crop productivity with limited impact on the environment.

PFAG proposes that, government makes budgetary provision for the supply of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) to address various malnutrition cases, especially in the poorest parts of the country.

The full statement by PFAG and partners is published below.

The members of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), together with its partners (Voice for Change Partnership program (V4CP); GROW Campaign Partners; the Forest and Farm Facility Partners and the Agroecology Movement Partners) after extensive consultation with farmers across Ghana have identified key relevant areas for agricultural transformation in the country. We therefore call on government, through the Ministry of Finance to prioritize the following areas for investment in the 2020 national budget.

  1. Issue: Impact of climate change on agricultural productivity and livelihoods of millions of farmers in Ghana

Justification: The recent changes in rainfall patterns coupled with changes in temperatures, more frequent floods, droughts and infestation of pests such as the fall arm worm have negatively affected activities of smallholder farmers across Ghana. While government investment in combating the infestation of fall arm worm in 2019 yielded positive results and needs commendation, there hasn’t been much investment to address erratic rainfall patterns and the perennial floods which is largely attributed to annual spillage of the Bagri Dam from Burkina Faso. PFAG is anxious that if radical measures are not put in place to address the problem of perennial floods, the impact will exacerbate the poverty situation of farmers and affect the success Ghana chalked on achieving the Sustainable Development Goal One (SDG 1).

Proposal: We call on government to create mechanisms to collect and conserve excess spill over water from the Bagri Dam for domestic use and for dry season farming. We also call on government to increase investment in irrigation facilities to benefit smallholder farmers as well as invest in the promotion of agroecology farming in Ghana. The agroecology farming concept has been tested by PFAG and has significantly increased livestock and crop productivity with limited impact on the environment.

  1. Issue: Allocation of resources for supplementary feeding for Ready to Use Therapeutic foods (RUTF) such as plumpy nuts and micronutrient supplements.

Justification: Ghana is highly dependent on donor support to address acute malnutrition among children under 5 and pregnant women. Over the years, UNICEF and other development partners have provided funding for the supply of RUTF and iron supplements. Government was expected to take up the responsibility for this action after UNICEF and other donors have ended their support. However, since 2018 shortage of RUTF has been a major challenge in health facilities especially in the Northern parts of the country in their attempt to manage acute malnutrition among children. 

Proposal: If government is committed to reducing reliance on donor support as envisaged in the National Nutrition policy, we demand that government makes budgetary provision for the supply of these RUTFs to address various malnutrition cases, especially in the poorest parts of the country.

  1. Issue: Inadequate access to warehousing facilities for small holder farmers at the community level

Justification: While we commend government on the private sector led One District, One Warehouse initiative, it is clear that small holder farmers in the most communities are unable to access these facilities due to distance and ownership. We acknowledge that the warehouses being constructed at the various districts are targeted at private sector aggregators and also meant for government programs such as the Buffer Stock; however, there are significant Post-harvest losses recorded at the community level due to lack of appropriate storage facilities.  Post-harvest loss on highly perishable produce such as vegetables, fruits and tubers have also not been addressed.

Proposal: Since the reduction of Post-harvest losses has been captured as one of the key drivers under Agriculture modernization to achieve the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda, we recommend that government extends the One District One Warehouse initiative to target the construction of community warehouses, especially in communities with high production and post-harvest levels. We also call for investment to create cold stores and cold vans for perishable crops.

  1. Issue: Inadequate access to appropriate farm machinery

Justification: Availability of appropriate mechanization services that addresses the needs of small holder farmers continues to be a major constraint for small holder farmers. The unavailability of small harvesters, planters, power tillers and “tricycles (motor kings) present both production and harvesting problems for small holder farmers. Since 2007, the Government has been providing subsidized agricultural machinery to individual farmers and private enterprises. The Agricultural Mechanization Services Centres (AMSECs) offers tractor-hire services to small-scale farmers. This initiative has only targeted tractors and has been more beneficial to a few business men and large-scale farmers. These individuals purchase the subsidized tractors and hire them at commercial rates to smallholder farmers, defeating the purpose of the subsidy. More recently, the Agricultural Engineering Services Department (AESD) of MOFA has imported various equipment from Brazil, however, these equipment are fixed at exorbitant prices beyond the reach of both individual farmers and farmer groups, making it impossible for them to access them. 

Proposal: We propose that the government should facilitate the manufacturing or importation of appropriate mechanization equipment such as power tillers, small planters and harvesters, corn shellers, shea pickers and steamers, hand weeders, cassava harvesters which addresses specific needs of smallholder farmers. This is currently being practiced in India, China and many countries in Europe. This can be made possible by providing financial guarantees or tax incentives for manufacturers and importers of these equipment. We also propose the revival of the 168 existing Agricultural Mechanization Services and the establishment of new ones for the remaining districts.

  1. Issue: Impact of herdsmen and farmer conflicts on food security

Justification: The rampant conflicts between crop farmers and Fulani herdsmen has often led to loss of human lives, crops and livestock, thereby affecting food and livestock production. The government in its Manifesto promised to address this issue. We commend government for initiating cattle ranches in the Afram Plains as pilots.

Proposal: We are demanding government to invest more in the cattle ranches by setting up more designated grazing grounds for cattle in all districts of the country through the District Assemblies, most especially areas where these conflicts are rife.

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