The Private Sector Should Provide The Catalytic Role To Sustain Government’s PFJ

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MOFA

Agriculture is Ghana’s dominant economic sector, employing about 44.7% of the population on a formal and informal basis and accounting for almost 30% of GDP and export earnings and with 60% of the population living in the rural areas mainly involved in it.

For the past 7 years, Ghana’s agriculture growth has declined steadily in terms of its contribution to GDP. For example, despite a 3.6% growth target for the sector in 2015, data captured in the 2016 Budget Statement shows the sector only grew by 0.04% in 2014.

The agriculture sector grew by 4.6% despite a 5.2% target for the year. The consistent decline is a cause of concern considering that the sector employs over 40% of the population.

The poor performance of the agricultural sector is largely attributable to declining investment in the sector by government, inadequate physical infrastructures, high cost of credit, shortage of fertilizers and high-quality seeds, post-harvest losses, restricted access to credit, limited access to domestic, regional and international markets; and lack of a conducive policy environment.
Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has initiated several programmes aimed at promoting private investment in agriculture.

MOFA has been holding discussions on agriculture investment in Ghana with key stakeholders including the private sector to introduce the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform.

The platform supports country level efforts and promotes private sector investment and partnerships in line with the regional priorities as in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and in consistent with the Medium-Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP).

In addition, MoFA has created Agribusiness Support Division under the Policy Planning and Monitoring Directorate (PPMED) to serve as an interface between the government and private sector to facilitate investment in the agriculture sector, besides offering technical and advisory support on investment in agriculture and trade.

It is in line with this that the government and World Bank in collaboration with USAID set up Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP) to achieve the policy objectives which allow access to investment opportunities ranging from private commodity farms to private sector operators along the selected agriculture value chains comprising inputs suppliers, traders, processors, exporters, financial institutions, warehouse operators and transporters.

The USAID funded Agriculture Policy Support Project(APSP) has also worked to improve the enabling environment for private sector investment in agriculture. The project has partnered with the Ghanaian government, the private sector, and civil society organizations to improve the capacity for evidence-based policy formation, implementation, research, and advocacy.

APSP has also provided technical assistance to executive and legislative branch bodies to improve data and statistics capability, organizational effectiveness, and other capacity needs.

It has supported many public and private institutions, including the Ghanaian government’s vision of the Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System node under the Medium-Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan Steering Committee as a central hub for knowledge management, information, and stakeholder brokering related to the plan’s policies and programs.

The increasing role of the private sector in agriculture development presents new opportunities for collaboration between the public and private sectors. Creating an enabling environment for agriculture and agribusiness development has therefore become very important in Ghana’s agriculture development reform agenda.

It has become critical for the Government of Ghana to initiate programs, set and develop standards that promote responsible food production, facilitating access to agriculture inputs and markets, regulating competition, promoting the competitiveness of the agribusiness sector and supporting the inclusion of private sector including civil society in agriculture policy making and productivity growth.

To improve the enabling environment to attract private investment and development funding, there should be improved dialogue between policy makers (government MMDAs) and private sector. Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans (NAFSIPs) by the government should be informed by a better understanding of what public investment could do most to leverage vital private sector investment.

The Government of Ghana recognizes agriculture and industry as the driving sectors of its economic transformation agenda to create jobs improve livelihoods and create wealth. As a result, the Planting for Food and Jobs and the One District One Factory programmes have been introduced as key flagship initiatives.

Although these programmes are in the right direction, there has not been enough public-private sector engagements and information on the initiatives.

To fully solicit the support and cooperation of key stakeholders in the implementation of these programmes, Government must initiate broader consultations through public-private stakeholder engagements, enable stakeholders to fully understand the sustainability and viability of these initiatives as well as programme implementation processes.

The Hunger Alliance of Ghana with a grant support from the USAID Feed the Future (FtF) Agriculture Policy Support Project seeks to promote public-private dialogues and targeted advocacy actions to improve the current agriculture environment to attract and sustain private sector interest and participation.

The ultimate outcome is to attain a rapid private sector led agriculture economy. As part of the effort to promote public-private dialogues on these flagship programmes, Hunger Alliance of Ghana has organized a stakeholders’ forum dabbed: “Stimulating private sector interest and participation in the new government agriculture flagship initiatives (“Planting for Food and Jobs” and “One District, One Factory),” in Accra on 25th October, 2017 at the Coconut Groove Hotel.

The forum is aimed to identify the opportunities available in these flagship initiatives for Ghanaian businesses to maximize private sector interest and investment.

The main objective of the forum is to partner with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to push forward the “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ) and the “One District One Factory” programmes through awareness creation, civic engagements and broad consultation to gain a deeper understanding of the programmes by the public and private stakeholders at large and promote a strong commitment from private investors.

In a presentation on the overview of the “Planting for Food and Jobs,” its implementation process, challenges and expected impact, Dr. Solomon Gyan from the Planting for Food and Jobs secretariat at MoFA, indicated that, the Planting for Food and Jobs, will be anchored on the 5 pillars that will transform Ghanaian agriculture.

These pillars he said are; the provision of improved seeds, the supply of fertilisers, the provision of dedicated extension services, a marketing strategy, and the use of e-agriculture.

The Planting for Food and Jobs programme according to him, is expected to increase the production of maize by 30%, rice by 49%, soybean by 25% and sorghum by 28%, from the current production levels. And was quick to add that, this programme, will create 750,000 jobs in both direct and indirect employment.

To guarantee the success of the programme, Dr. Solomon further indicated that, fertiliser is readily available to the farmer at affordable prices, and government has reduced the prices of fertiliser by 50%.

“A 50kg bag of NPK fertiliser, the one most used by farmers, up to now has been costing GH¢115. Under this government, farmers will only pay GH¢57.50 for it. Likewise, a 50kg bag of urea now sells at GH¢47.50, as opposed to GH¢80 last year,” he noted.

In addition, he said, with a looming shortage of agric extension officers, government has employed 1,200 of graduates officers, and in 2018, government would employ 2,000 more extension officers, from the Colleges of Agriculture.

In explaining the use of the technology in the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, via the use of the e-Agriculture platform, Dr. Solomon indicated that, it will ensure the effective distribution of improved seeds and fertilisers, and as well as a significant improvement in extension service delivery to farmers.

He assured that, government intends to construct a 1,000 metric tonne-capacity warehouses in each of the 216 districts, to handle produce, as well as to store the anticipated surpluses under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme.

Dr. Solomon reiterated that, it has been government’s vision to modernise agriculture, improve production efficiency, achieve food security, and profitability for farmers, all aimed at significantly increasing agricultural productivity. Again, value-addition strategy, focused on rapidly ramping up agro-processing and developing new and stable markets for products will be followed.

In conclusion, Dr. Solomon Gyan said, all these policies and interventions will combine the full agricultural value chain and create additional businesses and job opportunities in the areas of storage, transport, processing, packaging and marketing of agricultural produce, all of which will ensure that, farmers and fishermen earn higher incomes.

In attendance of the forum were participants drawn from Senior Officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, relevant parliamentary caucus and committee, CSO Leaders, Private Sector Leaders, FBO networks and associations such as Ghana Federation of Agriculture Producers, National Farmers Award Winners Association, Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalist Association (GARDJA), National Fisheries Aquaculture (NFA), AGI, PEF, FAGE, GAWU, Inputs Suppliers, Transporters and Ghana Root Tubers and Exporters Union (GROTEU) and to name a few.

By:Sammy Adjei/Newsghana.com.gh

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