In the next few weeks, the agriculture sector will see a more coherent agricultural policy framework that will generate sufficient incentives for farmers to invest in agriculture.
Sixty-six years after independence, it is evident that farming is still the most important employer of labour in Ghana, contributing largely to the economic output of the country.
The post-independence period has witnessed policy flickering between operation feed-yourself, state farms, subsidised inputs, and support to small-holder farmers and many more.
Ghanaian farmers have since been very responsive to policy changes, showing that agricultural policy and implementation matter for agricultural growth.
Under the leadership of Byran Acheampong as Minister, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is set to roll out a five-year Agriculture Sector Strategic Framework to chart the way forward for agriculture in Ghana.
Ultimately, this is to ensure sustainable national food security, self-sufficiency in the production of agriculture commodities and a thriving agri-business.
The framework will provide an input credit system to farmers.
Owing to its sound and well-defined objectives, as well as guaranteed government support, it is expected that entry point for farmer participation will be lowered for more enrolment.
The ministry has the firm conviction that its transformation agenda for agriculture can be achieved, given the new focus and orientation of elevating agriculture from obsolescence and a subsistence way of life to a new mindset that perceives agriculture as a business.
Ghana, over the years, has implemented several interventions to develop the agriculture sector with the goal of ensuring food security and modernising Ghana’s agriculture sector.
These interventions are grounded in the sector policy, Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II) and its corresponding medium-term plans, which provide the foundation for these initiatives.
Key among these initiatives is the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign.
Planting for Food and Jobs
The PFJ campaign, which was rolled out in 2017 to promote agricultural development with the objective to ensure food security, increase productivity and production, promote import substitution, promote exports and create jobs especially for the youth.
At the inception of the programme, farmers received as high as 50 per cent subsidy on inputs supplied among other interventions.
No doubt, some significant successes have been chalked up evident in food security and the establishment of agro-industries relying on food crops for raw materials country wide.
In spite of these successes, the ministry is quick to admit that there have also been implementation challenges that have slowed down the momentum of the PFJ flagship programme and indeed threatened to erode the gains chalked up over the five-year period, hence the need for a review.
In view of the above, some consultative engagements with key sector players were held by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to share and discuss the new pathways being chartered by the ministry to effectively harness the potential of the food and agricultural sector.
It is known that food security has been a topical and high priority issue for most countries including Ghana.
This is due to the impact of factors we all know, namely the adversities of climate change, high cost of inputs, COVID-19 food inflation, low yields, post-harvest losses among others which remain worrying signals of threats to national food security and stability.
Mindful of the critical role stakeholders play in delivering impactful solutions in the food and agricultural sector, extensive consultations have been held with some key stakeholders of the ministry on pathways for rapidly transforming Ghana’s agriculture/food systems and ensuring resilience in the face of major challenges.
Many smallholder farmers in Ghana are not able to access credit due to various reasons, including the lack of collateral, inadequate financial literacy, and the perception of high-risk associated with agricultural activities.
Subsidising fertilisers and improved seeds imposed a heavy financial burden on the government.
This strains the government’s budget with a tendency of redirecting resources from other equally important sectors.
The above limitations provided an opportunity for government to re-strategise to provide a new direction with an agricultural model that supports the entire agricultural value-chain.
This strategy will transform agricultural value chains for economic development with an active private-sector participation in the targeted agricultural commodities.
The writer is the Head of Public Relations at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture