The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has reaffirmed the determination and commitment of his government to developing a sustainable, sound and vibrant agricultural sector, that enhances the performance of all agricultural commodity value chain actors.
Delivering a speech at this year’s Farmers’ Day Celebration, held at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, in Kumasi, on Friday, 1st December, 2017, the President noted that a thriving agricultural sector engenders prosperity in the society.
“Ours is a blessed land, and we have all the ingredients not only to feed ourselves, but also to generate jobs, and create wealth and prosperity, through the modernisation of and the change in attitude towards agriculture,” he said.
The President noted, however, that, in recent past, the country was in danger of allowing agriculture to fall into the doldrums, as, in the last ten years, the contribution of agriculture to GDP had plummeted from a high of 42% to a low of 18.5% in 2016.
With some attributing the decline in agriculture to the “Dutch Disease” and also the growth of the services sector, President Akufo-Addo noted that problems of post-harvest losses, low productivity, weak link with industry, low application of technology, insufficient agro-financing, land tenure issues, weaknesses along the agriculture value chain, all contribute to the flagging fortunes of agriculture.
“We can, and we should overcome these problems, if we keep our focus, ensure efficient and effective implementation of policies and programmes, and rally fully behind Government to give agriculture the decisive impulse it needs, to take its pride of place once again,” he said.
To this end, President Akufo-Addo stressed that the modernisation of agriculture would remain a priority of Government.
Tackling problems of agric sector
Government’s prescription for tackling the problems of the agricultural sector, the President outlined, will be to operationalize a comprehensive plan to enhance food security, improve farm productivity, strengthen linkages with industry and, thereby, create jobs, improve rural livelihoods and wealth for all Ghanaians.
The thrust of the key policies in pursuance of the objectives, he added, is to promote agribusiness, by placing emphasis on agricultural value chain development in partnership with the private sector.
On the crops sector, which, the President said, is the key driver of growth of the agricultural sector, has, this year, benefited from various interventions through the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs.
“These include the distribution of improved seeds, improved extension services, acquisition of agricultural machinery and equipment from Brazil under the “More Food International Programme”, amongst others. Most of these equipment are being used in diverse ways along the agricultural value chains, which include land preparation, seeding, crop protection, harvesting and primary processing,” he added.
In line with Government’s target of promoting all-year-round cropping, President Akufo-Addo noted that preparatory activities are ongoing to implement the “One Village One Dam” agriculture development agenda.
“I can report that 320 small dams and dugout sites in 64 districts, in the northern part of the country, have been earmarked for development. Additionally, 192 will be evaluated in 2018 for development there. A provisional list of 51 dams in Volta, Greater Accra and Central Regions has been submitted for consideration for rehabilitation,” he revealed.
Additionally, a water transmission project, to distribute water from rivers Oti, the Black and White Volta to communities for productive cultivation, the President said, will begin next year, and will bring up to 90,000 hectares under irrigation.
Implementation of an agricultural programme, he added, with the help of multilateral partners, will potentially also bring about 1,732 hectares of land under irrigation through solar pumping from rivers, sinking of bore holes, rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes, and construction of new ones.
Touching on agricultural finance, the President noted that this area has been identified by the private sector as one of the most limiting factors to investment in agriculture.
He noted that the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending Scheme (GIRSAL), initiated with the assistance of AGRA, will improve and provide incentives for commercial lending to agribusinesses in Ghana.
On road infrastructure, the President noted that this “has also been identified as critical for private sector investment in agriculture. Consequently, we are intensifying our efforts to develop the road network through the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund. There is also support from the multilateral institutions for the development of a good number of strategic roads in the country.”
President Akufo-Addo, thus, assured that his “Government will continuously support food production for domestic consumption, provision of raw materials for industry and exports. We aim to increase incomes and enhance livelihoods for farmers and their households.”
He, thus, called for the “support of all stakeholders, including our gallant farmers, fisherfolk, value chain actors, entrepreneurs, financial institutions and friends of Ghana, towards the realisation of Government’s agenda of transformation of the agricultural sector.