SEND GHANA, with funding support from Trust Africa, is implementing a project dubbed,“Promoting Smallholder Farmers’ Inclusion in Agricultural Modernization (PSFAM)”, aimed at promoting smallholder farmers inclusion in the five components of the Planting for Food and Jobs Campaign.
SEND however on Wednesday 27th February, 2019, organized a national dialogue which brought together stakeholders including CSOs like KITA, Centre for Agro Liberty (CAL) at ILAPI, farmers, government agencies, Parliamentarians
and many others from across the country, at the Swiss Alisa Hotel in Accra, to increase knowledge of smallholder farmers on the campaign to track allocation, disbursement and expenditure on the components.
Rachel Gyabaah, Programmes Officer for Strategic Projects at SEND GHANA, indicated in a presentation that, in partnership with ECASARD and farmer-based organisations in the north, the PSFAM project sensitized smallholder farmers on the Planting for food and Jobs Campaign (PFJ) in the Eastern Corridor and Middle Belt, built their capacity to gather evidence and engaged government to promote transparency and accountability in the implementation of the PFJ for the benefit of majority of farmers in Ghana who are smallholders.
“The project also provided a platform for smallholder farmers to contribute inputs into the 2019 national budget. In line with objective 3 of the project a research was undertaken to generate evidence to make recommendation to improve the agriculture sector in Ghana. The study assessed government’s expenditure allocations in the agriculture sector between 2014 and 2017. The study also assessed the functional breakdown of government expenditures on both allocations and actuals in the sector for the period under review.”
According to Rachael, from the data they gathered, it was observed that, even though Ghana has signed unto the CAADP protocols, the country could not meet the 10% expenditure allocation and at least 6% growth for the period 2014-2017.
And again, the average allocation and actual expenditures for the period 2014-2016 was about 3% allocation whilst actual is 2.5% which reflected in the
low average growth rate of 3%.
The situation, She said, however changed in 2017 with an increase of the allocation and actual to average of 5.1% and 5.4% of allocation and actual respectively and the correspondent growth of 8% in the sector.
She also said, the inability to meet the CAADP goals of 10% expenditure allocation and at least 6% growth is attributable to nonexistence of a formula to facilitate strategic, systematic and consistence allocation, no sector experts to analyze the sector and negotiate for more resources. “In addition, there is no sector dedicated funding as it is with GETFund for education to provide guaranteed funding and low investment of private sector in agriculture infrastructure,” She added.
Rachael intimated key lessons from 2017 showed that, with high investment and right target, the sector, if all things being equal, was likely to increase its growth as was observed from average 3% in 2014-2016 to 8.4% in 2017, in the period under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ).
She also noted that, the PFJ policy even though, was targeted at small holder farmers however, there were no data to show that the right farmers received the support. This, she said would therefore require stakeholder census to generate the required data to facilitate policy targeting for maximum impact.
However, they recommended that, MoF should take steps to develop a formula to facilitate strategic, systematic and consistent allocation to the sector towards achieving the CAADP 10% budget allocation and the correspondent 6% sector growth.
Again, “MOF should engage sector experts for all sectors including agriculture expert who will undertake analysis of the sector financial need, as well as engage the sector stakeholders to negotiate for adequate funds to achieve strategic targets of the sector. Alternatively, staff of the Ministry could be trained as expert on the various sectors who will bring technical expertise to bear on the resources allocation and attainment of targets set for the sectors including agriculture sector.”
To ensure sustainability of the sectors’ growth, they recommended that, the investment or development expenditure allocation of the sector should be increased to support sector infrastructure.
“A proposed agriculture investment fund similar to GETFund should be set up to provide guaranteed financial resources to the sector. Sources to the fund will include yearly allocation from the budget, 2% levy on all agriculture output exported output of this country.
Given the limited fiscal space available in government budget, some incentives should be provided to attract private sector investment into large scale farming. This can be achieved by developing targeted policies such as input tax exemptions, subsidies on equipment’s for large scale sector activities etc,” She reiterated.
Chairman of Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Select Committee of Parliament, Mr. Kwame Asafu-Agyei, and also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Nsuta-Kwaman Beposo, on his part said, it behooves Ghanaians to adopt the PFJ Programme as it goes a long way to improve Ghana’s agricultural sector.
He noted that, the Programme has increased the annual growth of Ghana’s agriculture and brought employment.
Saying that, today, Ghana no longer imports plantain. Ghana now exports vegetables whereas increasing the production of cereal and grains.
Noting that, Parliament has approved a GH¢400 million with additional GH¢10 million from the Agricultural Funds by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) for the agric sector.
He called for the management of He however, expressed his dissatisfaction about the Agricultural Funds being managed by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture or the Ministry of Finance. And said it should rather be managed by management of the fund.
The Country Director of SEND GHANA, Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh,charged on CSOs to also come together as one unionised body in order to have a strong voice to address issues of accountability.
According to him, “We cannot develop a country if we do not work on our agriculture. We must get people to contribute and turn ourselves to monitors to support farmers.
Industrialisation, underdevelopment of rural communities and youth unemployment, among others, won’t be addressed if agriculture is not given priority.”
He therefore, urged politicians to allow the agricultural technocrats to steer the affairs, for a better result.
Hon. Abraham Dwuma Odoom, MP for Twifo Atti Morkwa in the Central Region of Ghana, also stressed on the need have a value-chain, that would not be dependent on government’s support but rather involving the private sector, as well as getting the right service providers to make things easier for farmers to be what they really ought to be.