The International Monetary Fund has projected a deep coronavirus-induced global recession, which threatens a nearly 4% drop in world GDP and could drag the GDP of African economies into a fall of about 1.4%, with smaller economies facing a contraction of up to 7.8%.
These losses will have repercussions on Africa’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063. With at least 60% of the African population dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and access to food, any trade-related distortions to the sector can threaten the food security of the continent’s poor.
In addition to the impact of extreme climate shocks on agricultural productivity, there is a strong positive correlation between economic recession and food insecurity in Africa.
Despite the continent’s huge resource endowments (including a wide availability of arable land, and a young, growing labour force, among other factors), the continent’s agricultural production alone, hampered by distribution, access, and affordability challenges, is insufficient to meet its food security needs.
From 2016 to 2018, Africa imported about 85% of its food from outside the continent, leading to an annual food import bill of $35 billion, which is forecast to reach $110 billion by 2025. This heavy reliance on world markets is detrimental to food security, especially at a time of acute crisis.
A situation exacerbated by the current COVID-19 crisis through its direct impacts on trade, logistics, production and value chains. In several African countries, the disruption of marketing and trade activities, and COVID-19-related panic-buying, exacerbated food price increases (especially cereals) between March and June.
National policy responses to limit the impact of COVID-19 on food markets in Africa have varied, from the removal of value-added taxes on food products to export restrictions on key food items.
In Ghana, government has mooted plans to do more through its flagship agriculture policy, planting for Food and Jobs to try to consolidate the huge impact made in the last three years and also act as a basis for the rebound of the local agriculture industry.
At the commemorative 10th edition of the Annual Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions held in the Northern Regional Capital, Tamale in October 2020 under the Theme: Covid-19 And Beyond; Solutions for Agricultural Transformation, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Sagre Bambangi and Hon. Salifu Sa-eed, the Regional Minister for the Northern Region expressed governments unalloyed support for the annual Pre-harvest event while baring thoughts on a myriad of issues bothering on agribusiness.
Being the 10th anniversary of the event, the thematic emphasis focused on exploring solutions for transformation of the industry in view of the uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and Conference is structured to give extraordinary opportunity for participants to meet with farmers of all commodities to negotiate and seal deals.
The platform also afforded Participants an opportunity to meet fertilizer, irrigation and seed companies, tractor, machinery and equipment dealers, technology firms, banks and financial institutions, processors, researchers, government institutions, development partners and a lot more.
Delivering his address, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture Dr. Sagre Bambangi said: “Allow me to commend Agri-house and its partners for growing this event into a key platform for grooming our farmers and other value chain actors for more impact.
“This is the expectation of government – to see the private sector play a central role in championing initiatives that complement the impact of its policies for agriculture.
“Though the industry endured a blip owing to the fallout of the covid-19 pandemic, I believe the organisers have structured the event to reflect mechanisms and methodologies that will help our farmers rise tall once again.
“My conviction is borne out of the event theme this year which clearly underscores the need to consider solutions that will help agriculture rebound post Covid-19. The theme “Covid-19 And Beyond; Solutions for Agricultural Transformation is therefore opportune.
“I believe the theme mirrors the kind of approach we need to get the sector up and running at optimum level. This solution as captured by the theme will give participants an opportunity to meet fertilizer, irrigation and seed companies, tractor, machinery and equipment dealers, technology firms, banks and financial institutions, processors, researchers, government institutions, development partners to interact, learn more and partner for growth and expansion.”
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He continued: “Agribusiness is the future we all want to see. A renewed emphasis on value addition as this event seeks to project is crucial to improving the capacity of value chain actors through providing inputs to farmers, connecting them to consumers through general handling, processing, transporting, marketing and the distribution of agricultural products.
“Indeed, the world has moved on from subsistence agriculture and we must follow suit to bring governments expectation of a more robust agriculture sector for Ghana to pass.”
He extolled government’s commitment to growing agriculture and highlighted the impact of the Planting for Food and Jobs policy introduced by government in 2017 to revamp agriculture in the country and other allied policies like the One District One Factory, One District among others.
“Government’s commitment to making agriculture the undisputed lifeblood of the economy remains evergreen. Indeed, since assuming office, the government of His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has demonstrated this with a combination of unprecedented policy programs that have helped improve agriculture.
“This intervention has targeted irrigation, increased production, job creation and agribusiness as a means of phasing the era of simplistic and unambitious agriculture. All of this interventions which have become household names because of their relevance and impact have collectively improved the fortunes of agriculture.
“The policy programs which include: The Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign to increase productivity and production for food security, raw material supply by industry and employment;
“The One Village, One Dam (IVID) programme to ensure‚ availability of adequate water for agricultural production all year round, especially in the northern regions’’
“The One District, One Factory programme aimed at transforming the structure of the economy from one dependent on production and export of raw materials, to a value-added industrialized economy, driven primarily by the private sector; are set to be the basis for government’s plan to revamp the agriculture sector post COVID-19.
“All these policies are designed by government to incite the transformation of agribusinesses and serve as a key source of jobs and socio-economic transformation,” he concluded.
On his part The Northern Regional Minister, Hon. Salifu Sa-eed spoke copiously on a decade of impact inspired by the event and assured of governments continued support for the event and similar initiatives.
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“I am pleased to be here again to witness this great event, and to extend to you, government’s enduring commitment to the agriculture sector.
“Government acknowledges the centrality of farming to our development agenda, that is why I endorse the Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Exhibitions and Conference Event for its remarkable contribution to farmers in this region in the last decade.
“In the last ten years we all have been witnesses to the growth and business expansion that this event has inspired for agriculture.
“The people of this region and all adjoining regions owe a debt of gratitude to Agri-house Foundation and her partners for their mammoth contribution to agriculture in this region through the organization of this event.
“We are truly proud to have hosted this agric showpiece thus far and assure all of our continued support and hospitality for this event and the participants it attracts to this beautiful region. “
He acknowledged the centrality of agriculture to the economic fortunes of the Northern region and called for improved productivity through agribusiness.
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“Agriculture is undoubtedly the bedrock of Ghana’s economy. Indeed, the sector employs more people than any industry and supports the nutrition of citizens through the provision of food.
“This is partly the motivation for governments flagship agriculture policy, the Planting for Food and Jobs which has been a massive success so far.
“The Pre-Harvest Conference and Exhibition is therefore a strategic platform that requires even more support from development partners and all friends of agriculture to consolidate the gains achieved in the last ten (10).
“In the years ahead we will like to see increased partnerships that will scale up the capacity of this event to attract participants from across borders so that we can do more for the present and future of agriculture through agri-business.
“Giving businesses a platform that helps them thrive agribusinesses is strategic to Ghana’s economic development. Agribusiness creates important linkages and encourages investment in a way that can have strong multiplier effects on growth.
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“It is key to fighting food insecurity, not only because it stimulates increased production but also due to It’s potential to create wealth for smallholders and rural communities. “
“We are committed to bridging the poverty gap in society, and agribusiness clearly holds the opportunities for this through private sector investment in off farm activities and other collaborations.
“The large pool of stakeholders it attracts makes the event the ideal platform for inciting transformative growth for agribusiness in Ghana and particularly in the Northern Region where a significant chunk of agriculture production takes place.
“Aside the introduction of government’s headline agric policies, the government through its agencies are working assiduously to achieve: Improved Productivity levels, Commercial orientation of production to meet market demands, Policies that crowd in the private sector and promote strong public private partnerships (PPP) in areas of market failure, increasing infrastructure investments such as roads, energy and water for processing, promoting consumption of food produced locally among others.
“Agribusiness creates important linkages and encourages investment in a way that can have strong multiplier effects on growth. It is key to fighting food insecurity, not only because it stimulates increased production but also due to It’s potential to create wealth for smallholders and rural communities.
“All these interventions are aimed at creating the enabling environment for the transformation of agribusinesses so as to provide employment to the unemployed youth and enhance income for smallholder farmers. “he ended.
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The 10th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibitions and Conference was organized by Agri-house Foundation, Ghana’s foremost non-governmental agricultural social impact, capacity building, innovation and project management organization with a special focus on changing the perception of, and consciously shaping the conversation on agriculture through the promotion of people-impact initiatives and programs for students, women, farmers, farming associations, agribusinesses and the entire actors within the value chain.
The event this year enjoyed the partnership and sponsorship support of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, The European Union, Yara Ghana, Ecobank, the Northern Regional Coordinating Council and the Agricultural Development Bank.