The lack of long-term financing, improved seeds and fertilizers and poor infrastructure continue to negatively affect farmers in the zone of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
As part of efforts to change this situation, the Authority recently opened a three-day workshop in Accra to deliberate on how best to attract investment to the zone.
Charles Abugre, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SADA, in an address, disclosed that the SADA Zone has most of the arable lands in the country.
He added that with the right technologies, extension services and market and public infrastructure, Ghana would break her import dependency of agricultural imports, stabilize its currency through exports and offer a new medium to industrialization beyond the oil and gas-led model.
Analysts have in recent times expressed concern about the lack of development in the SADA Zone.
Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance, the SADA Zone, was saddled with the challenges of duplication of efforts among key players in the sector, desertification and climate change impacts, high cost of inputs and low use of technology, limited agricultural extension services, as well as inadequate skills of smallholder farmers.
He said accelerating agricultural growth in the SADA Zone would not only answer Ghana’s food needs, but also stabilize the local currency and potentially reduce the need for external loans.
However, government, in November 2015, cut its budget allocation for this year to the agriculture sector by GH¢40 million despite concerns about declining growth rates.
Andy Karas, Mission Director of USAID, also mentioned how the credit constraint facing businesses in Ghana was impeding the growth of commercial agriculture in Northern Ghana.
“But for this area to reach its potential, investment must come from private sources like foreign direct investment, banks, capital markets and private transfers.”
Northern Savanna Ecological Zone (NSEZ) has been identified as the country’s untapped economic reservoir with immense agronomic resources, having about eight million hectors of arable agricultural land that could trigger the economic transformation of Ghana and the sub-region.
It has the potential to produce all the tomatoes to meet the country’s needs.
Participants at the workshop developed an actionable roadmap that would serve as a blueprint to improve agriculture in the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone (NSEZ).
The roadmap, presented to President John Mahama at the end of the workshop, would present SADA with a Master Planning process and serve as the National Development Planning Commission’s Long-Term National Development Framework.
By Samuel Boadi