The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and SEND GHANA have urged government to set up an Agriculture Sector Investment Fund to help address the resource constraints for achieving food security.
Speaking on agriculture sector led-economy recovery at a public forum, Professor Godfred Bokpin, an Economist and Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana Business School, said, food index in Ghana has surged since the country reported its first case of Coronavirus disease and the fear of COVID-19 is collapsing economies. “This requires that, as a country we need a secured financial structure that can serve as a financial reservoir for farming activities,” he suggested.
Bokpin argues that, as the Finance Ministry prepares to present its mid-year budget review and supplementary estimates for 2020, a Special Agriculture Sector Investment Fund should be set up with strong involvement of Private Sector to make it attractive in financing the entire agriculture value chain including poultry.
According to him, the Fund can be used to improve the efficiency in existing agriculture sector interventions such as subsidy on fertilizers among others to sustain the economy of Ghana in the midst of COVID-19.
The forum, organised by Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) in collaboration with SEND GHANA and with support from the International Budget Partnership, was held under the theme: Anchoring Ghana’s Post-COVID Recovery on Agriculture: Investing in Smallholder Farmers for Food Security and Growth” to elicit inputs for consideration into the upcoming mid-year budget review to be presented by the Ministry of Finance.
On her part, a Deputy Director, Policy Planning and Budget Directorate, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Madam Josephine Quagraine, mentioned that, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is in the process of developing a strategy that will enhance access to finance for crop and livestock producers and processors, which would implore banks to apply their expanded pool of funds to finance actors in the maize, rice, soy and poultry supply chains.
She said with this strategy, they would improve extension delivery, expanding access to information, while intensifying the use of electronic media (TV and radio) to enhance extension delivery.
Ben Kanati, a smallholder farmer at Ashaiman in adding his voice acknowledged government’s investment in the agric sector and lamented that, “over the years Agriculture seem not to have received the required investment as stipulated by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). For Ghana to succeed, let’s look the way of Agriculture by increasing investment in the sector.”
The forum served as a platform to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the economy as a whole and justify the prioritization of agriculture as the engine to propel Ghana out of economic quagmire due to the COVID.