The Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) has said it supports Government’s intention to set up a National Development Bank to purposely support investment in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The Association also acknowledged Government’s policy direction and interventions, particularly the “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme and the “Agricultural Infrastructure Warehouses and Markets” programme intended to serve as incentives to get young people into agriculture and ensure improved production.
This was contained in a statement issued and jointly singed by Mr Ernest Kofi Adu, Mr Richmond Frimpong, General Secretary and President of GARDJA respectively ahead of the 33rd National Farmer’s Day Celebration on Friday.
The statement said it is the expectation of the Association that the “Agriculture Infrastructure and Warehouses and Markets” programme would help address the challenges of price volatility and post harvest losses that were due in part to the pressure on farmers to sell their produce immediately after harvesting.
It said there is still more to be done for the nation to achieve full agriculture value, particularly in the area of poultry and livestock, noting that Ghana’s domestic supply of broiler meat is just 10 percent, whiles the remaining 90 percent is imported.
“Our interaction with poultry and livestock farmers reveals that Ghana cannot boast of any serious dairy production and that all the milk intake, ice creams, and yoghurt are produced from imported milk, despite the existing vast potential in the country”, it said.
“The poultry, aquaculture and livestock industry will provide a substantial base for employment and development in Ghana, if Government shows commitment in the sector”, the statement said.
It said Ghana as a nation needed to make local producers of chicken more competitive than chicken importers by giving them soft loans with zero to 10 percent interest rate than the current 35 to 40 percent rate that continues to hold them down.
The statement said Government in 2014 launched a Broiler Revitalisation Programme with the intention of reducing poultry imports by 40 percent, but the programme failed because local producers had to contend with cheap imports.
“We believe that a comprehensive agriculture development programme that will respond to all the sectors of the agriculture industry for positive and sustainable growth is the way forward”, it said.
“We need to improve livelihoods and ensure food security, eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture, improve agriculture research, technology dissemination and adoption, and strengthen capacity for agribusinesses as well as improve access to information on agric strategies and their implementation”, the statement said.
It urged Government to consider the idea of constructing 20-kilometre road each year to farming communities, promote consumption of local rice to acceptable level, and devote greater part of annual budget to the agriculture sector, while chiefs make farmland available for use.
The statement saluted all farmers and fisher folks for their continuous support to food security and contribution to the economy.