Government must focus on creating an enabling environment to attract heavy investment to the agricultural sector heavily affected by unfavourable policy regulations, cultural norms, and traditions, Dr Charles Nyaaba, Head of Programmes and Advocacy, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has said.
He said the Government also needed to engage farmers in the development of an IMF programme to address issues of access to credit, market access, mechanisation, climate induced irrigation problems and policy regulations in the sector.
“Our problem has to do with irrigation, and nobody is talking about that and so how will IMF address issues of farmers…?” He asked.
Mr Nyaaba said this at an Imani-GIZ dialogue forum dialogue on the topic, “How will Ghana’s IMF deal impact investment in Agriculture and Manufacturing sector?”
Dr Nyaaba said though granting of subsidies on agriculture inputs to farmers was good, it was not an effective strategy to maximise long term returns on agriculture in the country.
He also urged the Government to review its Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative to ensure that peasant farmers benefited from the project.
“There is always a wrong impression when we talk about Planting for Food and Jobs. The impression is that support is coming to peasant farmers and that is not the case. We are where we are today because peasant farmers are neglected,” he said.
After setbacks in achieving the poverty reduction objectives of the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP I), which was formulated in 2002, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture facilitated the preparation of FASDEP II in 2007 and the Medium-Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) in 2010.
METASIP, which was to be implemented from 2011 to 2015 was geared towards achieving an agricultural Gross Domestic Product target growth of at least six per cent annually and halving poverty by 2015.
Mr Anthony Morisson, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana, said the shortfalls in the implementation of METASIP and FASDEP I and II had shown lack of government’s commitment to agriculture and the non-harmonisation of policies within the sector.
“Obviously we have policies that are not properly aligned to global events and economies and the national economic challenges,” he said.
Professor Abu Sakara, an Agronomist, and former Flagbearer of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), advised that the transaction cost of going to the IMF should be favourable to the agriculture sector such that it reduced the cost of energy for irrigation, lower interest rate on capital for agriculture and the cost of inputs.