Agric stakeholders advocate focus on agro processing, irrigation

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Ms Mabel Turkson QuarshieAfrican Women in Agribusiness
Ms Mabel Turkson QuarshieAfrican Women in Agribusiness

Some stakeholders in the agricultural sector have asked the government to focus attention on agro-processing because it constitutes an important thrust in the agricultural value-chain.

Such a move, they believed, could increase the sector’s overall contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Additionally, they maintained that developing the sector through the provision of additional goods and new processed products would help to provide income and employment in rural areas. It will also provide a strong linkage to agriculture while reducing uneven income distribution.

The President of the African Women in Agribusiness (AWIA), Ms Mabel Turkson Quarshie, made the call in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.

She was outlining the expectations of players in the industry in the 2021 Budget statement and government’s economic policy to be laid before Parliament today.

She said just as the government had initiated the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme as an intervention for improved productivity, same must be done for agro processing.

“If we don’t do that then it will mean that even when there is a bumper harvest most of them will go waste because the market will not be able to absorb the produce, especially those that are perishable.  

“We should also drive the nation towards more agro processing,” she said.

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According to the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Journalists Association (GARDJA), the agriculture sector alone was giving the country 65 per cent of factories from the 232, under the 1D1F factory programmes.

The President of GARDJA, Mr Richmond Frimpong, subsequently called for an appreciable increment of about 10 per cent in the budgetary allocation reserved for actual fieldwork to boost food production.

“Ghana needs to change the way it produces food because security goes beyond farming. We expect the budget to focus on irrigation development within the middle belt of the country. There should also be a special budget towards the development of irrigation systems in the middle belt,” it said.

PFAG input

Meanwhile, the members of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Ghana have outlined some key areas of relevance for agricultural transformation in Ghana that required budget support; these include the One village one dam (1V1D), Fertiliser Subsidy Programme, climate change, among other things.

It has, thus, called on the government, through the Ministry of Finance, to prioritise these areas for investment in the 2021-2024 National Budget and Economic Policy of Ghana.

“To make the one village one dam concept useful for smallholder farmers, the government should rather identify appropriate allocation with the districts and consolidate the remaining money for the 1V1D project for construction of relatively large dams that can serve the needs of several communities instead of construction of smaller dams in every village,” it proposed.