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Promoting agric mechanisation: Policy guidelines developed

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Dr Mrs Wilhelmina Quaye, the Director, CSIR-STEPRI
Dr Mrs Wilhelmina Quaye, the Director, CSIR-STEPRI

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MOFA) overarching policies and investment plan, the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II) and the Investing for Food and Jobs (IFJ 2018 - 2021), recognise mechanisation as an important driver of agriculture modernisation.

Its short-term plan is to facilitate/support acquisition of required machinery/equipment via subsidy and concessional terms, facilitate the establishment of privately run Agricultural Mechanisation Enterprise Services Centres (AMSECs) and facilitate tax reliefs on import duties of agricultural machinery/equipment, among others.

Consequently, a draft of the Ghana Agricultural Engineering Policy and Strategy document has been formulated to guide the agricultural mechanisation development to help improve productivity and ensure food security.

Agricultural mechanisation involves the processes to improve farm labour output via agricultural machinery usage with other supporting tools throughout the production and marketing process.

Read: Agric mechanisation still low - Agric census

 

At a policy dialogue in Accra on agriculture mechanisation, the Director of the Agricultural Engineering Services Directorate (AESD), of MOFA, Mr Amatus Deyang, said, “The medium-term approaches include building local capacity for agricultural machinery fabrication and prototype development, encourage local assemble of agricultural machinery, promote renewable energy technologies in agriculture and promote mechanisation extension via rural technology information systems.”

Sustainable mechanisation Mr Deyang outlined some notable actions being taken by the AESD to advance sustainable agricultural mechanisation.

These include facilitating the establishment of 176 AMSECs, the development of human capacity in agricultural machinery management, operations and maintenance to ensure proper use and reduction in machinery breakdown (over 1,200 tractor operators across the country since 2018) and the nationwide construction of warehouses for proper storage of farm produce and reduction in post-harvest losses.

 

The dialogue

The Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-STEPRI), under the Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next

Generation (Africa RISING), project conducted a study to investigate the extent to which mechanisation is promoted and implemented in the agricultural development ordinances and policies in Ghana

at the community, district, and national levels.

The Africa RISING is aimed at generating and disseminating technologies for the adoption of smallholder farmers for improved livelihoods. It is being

implemented with several collaborators (farmers, researchers, policy institutions, among others) in West Africa (Ghana and Mali), East Africa (Ethiopia and Tanzania) and Southern Africa (Malawi and

Zambia).

In Ghana, the project targets smallholder farmers in the north engaged in crop (maize and cowpea) and livestock (small ruminants) production.

The policy dialogue, therefore, was to share findings of the study and to map out ways in which mechanisation services could be improved for smallholder farmers in Ghana.

Improving mechanisation A research scientist, Dr Adams Abdulai, noted that generally, all the policies recognised the need to modernise agriculture by improving mechanisation.

Therefore, it is important to nurture a policy environment that encouraged private-sector-led development of agricultural mechanisation, and the nature and extent of state involvement should be well structured.

“Specific agricultural mechanisation policy is needed (formulated following a holistic approach) for effective modernisation and commercialisation of agriculture. “Extend the mechanisation view to include small farm implements that meet the expectations of smallholder farmers and promote their structural inclusion,” he proposed.

The Director at the CSIR-STEPRI, Dr Mrs Wilhelmina Quaye, said access to appropriate support services for mechanisation was a critical developmental issue in the agricultural sector.

Therefore, she said government’s commitment to transform the sector to catalyse industrial transformation could not be achieved without mechanisation.

“There cannot be any modernisation of the agric sector without critical attention to mechanisation.

“There is the need to change the narrative that agric production in Ghana is predominantly done by smallholders using traditional methods of farming,” she said.