The government is working assiduously to mitigate notable challenges currently confronting the country’s agriculture sector and to ensure that such hitches do not continue into next year, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, George Boahen Oduro, has said.
The minister was speaking at the 10th edition of the Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) in Accra on the topic ‘Investment in agribusiness; critical vehicle to promoting economic growth and development’, and said the myriad challenges which have confronted the sector, particularly this year, are something that government has taken seriously to resolve in order to protect the sector’s gains.
“We are hoping that 2022 will be better than this year. What we went through in terms of delayed payments to fertiliser suppliers really affected farming this year, coupled with the shortage of certain foodstuffs such as maize for consumption and for the poultry industry,” he said.
He further stated that the ministry is currently going through the budget cycle to ensure adequate plans are made for the implementation of agriculture sector policies next year.
Some agriculture sector stakeholders who attended the event were however optimistic and expectant that, at least, 5 percent of the total national budget will be allocated to the sector.
But Hon. Oduro said the issue of percentage allocation is always agreed upon with the Finance Ministry, adding: “The Ministry of Finance will determine how much is available based on policies to be implemented”.
Current agric sector challenges
Ghana’s agriculture sector experienced several setbacks in 2021, as there have been shortages of several feed ingredients including maize, wheat bran and soya bean, particularly for the poultry sector, due to exports to neighbouring countries coupled with exorbitant prices slapped on these items.
The menace of fertiliser smuggling and delay of payment to fertiliser distributors under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme has created dire consequences for the over-1.5 million farmers under the programme.
As of July this year, the government has been able to pay some GH¢250 million out of GH¢940 million owed dealers in fertiliser since last year.
The minister, nonetheless, maintained that the ministry is conscious of the challenges and will jealously guard the sector against any such complications next year.
Women in Agriculture
Hon. Oduro assured of the government’s commitment to supporting women in agriculture to thrive.
“MoFA has a directorate for women in agriculture, and the aim is to empower women groups in agriculture in order to support them in mechanising farming. We have some consignments of equipment coming from Brazil and the ministry has targeted such implements for women groups in agriculture, particularly in rice farming,” he said.
Professor Irene Egyir, Dean of the School of Agriculture-University of Ghana and who was also on the panel, said it is important for the government to prioritise women in agriculture by offering them all the necessary incentives which enable them to thrive.