The Agricultural sector is the mainstay of the economy of Ghana. A document published on Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Ministry website reveals that the sector employs over 40% of working Ghanaians.
However, over the period, the sector has been starved by various governments of the attention it deserves in order to ensure increased and consistent growth.
As presented in the budget statement and economic policy for the 2016 financial year, the sector experienced a decline in growth, realizing just 0.04 percent increase.
SEND-GHANA, after examining the 2016 budget, attributed the low growth of the sector to government’s inability to implement programmes planned for the year 2015.
At a recent Trust Africa funded Agric national stakeholders forum, the sector minister, Mr. Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, explained that the projected slow growth in the sector in 2015 has been largely due to the effect of weather condition. He added that “the budgetary situation has not been dramatically decreased.”
However, in a sharp rebuttal, Ms. Clara Osei-Boateng, Director of Policy Advocacy Programme at SEND-GHANA, expressed disappointment at the minister’s comment.
“If in the 21st century, Ghana still relies on the weather in order to boost growth then it is an indication that the country has done very little as far as agriculture is concerned,” she said.
The government can claim that it has allocated huge sums of money into the sector but there is a huge difference between allocation and disbursement. Thus, money can be allocated but if that money is not disbursed, it remains a mere rhetoric, she added.
She expressed worry about the situation where government says that it is allocating 10 million or 10 billion to the Agriculture Sector but at the end of the year not even half of that amount is released.
Citing the fertilizer subsidy programme as an example, she said in 2014, there was no fertilizer subsidy. However, in the subsequent year, government did well to bring the programme back, but then it delivered half of what it committed to do; instead of the 180,000 subsidized fertilizers, it did 90,000.
By BENEDICT MENSAH