Greater attention required for Agriculture, CSOs tell government

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Spining

A group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operating in the Agricultural value chain are urging government to use the sector as a pivot to rebound the Ghana’s economy and achieve durable reductions in poverty post-COVID-19.

According to them, government should be focusing more attention on the Agriculture sector, which plays a significant role in the country’s economy and also employs nearly 50 per cent of the workforce.

The group asked for support for people working in the informal agricultural sector to enable them access input and bank loans with flexible repayment plans.

According to the group as the country await the presentation of the Mid-year budget by the Finance Minister, they are of the view that Ghana’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy should be agriculture led and expand into other critical sectors embracing greater usage of technology and climate resilient farming practices. In addition, they believe that these areas within the sector need urgent and immediate attention and should be major highlights in the mid-year review of the budget. These include:

  1. Increase input subsidy to farmers both in the percentage cost borne by government and the number of beneficiary farmers; improve beneficiary targeting; and reduce leakages, diversion and smuggling in the distribution channels of subsidized fertilizer.
  2. Since the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) Business Support Scheme was targeted at micro and small enterprises and the registration requirements were inherently unfriendly for small holder holders, we are calling for the creation of a special stimulus facility solely for small holder farmers to enable them access financial credit at very flexible and low interest rates with extended moratorium periods.
  3. Prioritize the reduction of Post-harvest losses as an immediate strategy to reduce the losses of income for small holder farmers. To this end, critical attention must be weighed on the location and siting of warehouses in food producing areas for adequate utilization.
  4. Consult and support smallholder farmers to access or procure simple, affordable and appropriate hand-held equipment and restructure the Agricultural Mechanization Service Centres in other to reduce Post-harvest losses.
  5. Create a special model to enable farmer groups to aggregate and directly supply food produce to the numerous food distribution channels such as the School feeding program, Feeding for SHS, amongst others.

The organisations are the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), the International Budget Partnership (IBP), Voice for Change Partnership Programme, GROW Partners, SEND GHANA and other like-minded groups.

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