Decentralising agric mustn’t affect productivity adversely

Decentralising agric mustn’t affect productivity adversely

For some years now, the country has been promoting decentralisation with the ultimate aim to enhance performance and contribute to sustainable development. 


The concept of decentralisation empowers local authorities to determine what suits them and what is best for the rapid development of their localities.

It was in this vein that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) was decentralised in 1997 with the mandate to transfer decision-making powers and resources from the central government to local authorities and communities.

In that regard, the regional coordination councils and district assemblies are responsible for the complete functioning of the departments of Agriculture (staffing, office accommodation and operations).

The decentralisation concept is no doubt good because it enables the local authority to take decisions that benefit the locality, which ordinarily might not be beneficial to the larger population.

So, the expectations of the decentralisation of agriculture were that it would lead to faster and prompt resolution of staff or human and logistical challenges that adversely affected extension and agricultural service delivery compared to the previous situation where direct supervision and logistics were supplied and facilitated by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Accra.

The wisdom of decentralisation is, therefore, to ensure that no one is left behind in the development process, as it caters for the specific needs and requirements of each area and enhances local participation and community involvement in the decision-making processes.

The understanding is that this would result in increased agricultural productivity and diversification and promote inclusive growth and development.

Particularly for agric, the focus should be what the locality has comparative advantage over and not the situation where instructions are issued from a centralised power directing all localities to follow a specific pattern.

For instance, whereas attention on shea nut as a tree crop would be a pressing need in the Upper West Region, the Central Region would want to develop tree crops like cocoa and coconut.

Unfortunately, a study in 2018 by the International Food for Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found that although district directors of agriculture (DDAs) were responsible for functions, including on-farm techniques, extension services and soil and water conservation, they struggled to fulfil their mandate due to insufficient resources.

The findings, therefore, have exposed some shortcomings with the decentralisation in agriculture, including poor access to residential and office accommodation, staffing capacity issues, reporting difficulties, coordination problems and financing challenges.

The report shows that regional and district directors of agriculture face challenges in fulfilling their responsibilities due to the lack of resources and staff, while budgeting processes seem to have negatively influenced agriculture, leading to declined funding for the decentralised departments of agriculture.

The Daily Graphic believes that if these findings are anything to go by, then there is a crucial need to ensure that the country really is committed to ensuring that decentralisation is effective and works.

For effective decentralisation, it is the norm to restrict the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to policy formulation, planning and the performance of regulatory, monitoring and evaluation functions of governmental activities in agriculture. 

But if this is working adversely against food security and sufficiency, there is every reason to look at where these challenges are created in the decentralisation process, work on them and allow the wheels of government to run effectively.

According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the current administrative structure of the departments of agriculture makes it extremely difficult to undertake any meaningful infrastructure to support agriculture development at the regional and district levels.

This is troubling, knowing that strong agricultural infrastructure plays a crucial role in the growth and development of agriculture.

It is a well-known fact that a well-developed infrastructure not only boosts productivity and efficiency, but also helps ensure food security, reduce post-harvest losses and improves the overall quality of life for farmers and rural communities.  

The Daily Graphic fully supports decentralisation as it ensures that the local level gets exactly what it needs, but we are not enthused about its implementation under the MoFA.


Though a section of society is calling for the reversal of the district and regional departments of agriculture to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the paper thinks the processes of decentralisation within the agriculture sector must be streamlined in order to achieve the intentions of the decentralisation agenda.

Our hope is that the agriculture decentralisation will be thoroughly assessed and the loose ends tightened to avoid the situation where its implementation would work against the achievement of its goals.

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