Can the private sector deliver the jobs?

BY: Jelili J. Afolabi
The present and future of the agric sector is in the hands of the government to implement policies to improve the sector and the livelihood of our people
The present and future of the agric sector is in the hands of the government to implement policies to improve the sector and the livelihood of our people

One year into the Akufo- Addo-Bawumia administration, Ghanaians are quietly watching the unfolding events, how all the flagship programmes will begin to bear fruits for the benefit of all citizens i.e. the Planting for Food and Jobs, one-district, one-factory (1D1F) and one-village, one-dam.

When it comes to managing the finances of the country, the government must be commended for its efforts in consolidating and maintaining fiscal discipline, inspiring confidence in the economy to create private sector jobs through transparency, policy implementation and intervention. The years ahead are expected to be better and economically beneficial to the ordinary Ghanaian.

This is the best time for a formidable collaboration between the government and the private sector to work for the economic growth of our people to boost  international confidence as all the macroeconomic indicators are almost on target.
As the economic outlook is very positive and confidence in the economy is restored, Ghanaians hope that this year and the ones ahead will deliver the jobs as promised by the government.

Planting for Food and Jobs, as we are told, is making a lot of impact across the nation and both young and old people are taking advantage to add value to our economy.
Agriculture: the core of our economic freedom and growth

Our country over the decades has generated massive revenue through agriculture for the growth and sustenance of our economy.
This is the case because majority of the population of the country are into farming, fishing and other forms of agriculture. Research has shown that about 60 to 65 per cent  of the total population grow the land or fish  in the sea.

Unfortunately, the revenue the government generates from agriculture has seen a steep decline, and this has slowed the economic growth of our people.
Several problems regarding the government’s policies and, access to funding or aid for farmers and fishermen, i.e. machinery, technological expertise, training, storage, transportation and ready market for agricultural produce and products, are what have accounted for this decline.

However, this is not to say that the agricultural sector cannot be revamped to create the jobs, generate the revenues and bring economic growth to the country as a whole.
We can realise these gains when the government collaborates with the private sector through positive, transparent and corrupt-free policies.

The government must implement a policy intervention to give agric development aid to farmers and fishermen to enable them to increase their produce to trigger big investments as a leverage for private sector partnership.
The agricultural development aid should not only be in the form of  funds but machinery, pesticide/fertilisers, working tools and training for the farmers and fishermen. I commend the one-village, one-dam idea by the government to make irrigation of  farmlands easy.
Though I do not know how the one-village, one- dam idea will be implemented, I suggest that there should be installed pumps and tunnels that get to the farms to prevent the carrying of water by the folks.
The government should partner with the private sector in the use of technology during the implementation.

Furthermore, the government’s private sector partnership should provide storage facilities both on site and mobile for transportation of produce to final consumers and for exportation.
Most importantly, the government must introduce interventions that will remove market barriers that the poor farmers face and improve access to support services to build confidence for growth.

The fast-pacing world of technology has brought economic growth to smart and well-positioned economies, and Ghana can only take advantage if the government through the private sector, implements a robust, continuous strategy to have the local expertise developed in the entire supply chain network, i.e. knowledge development, use of research and development, local innovation, creativity, foreign-local partnership, mechanisations and hybrid seeds since these have been some of the crucial bottlenecks of the agricultural sector.
If these are resolved and agrochemicals and agricultural machinery is used, it will increase private sector investment to have access to the world market.

As a nation, we should realise and establish our competitive and comparative advantage and exploit it fully to bring benefit and economic growth to the people. Governments of most developed nations have successfully implemented policies that today have yielded great results, including revenue and job creation for its people.
Recommendations to government

The government of Ghana, just like any other developing country, can implement these policy strategies to boost agriculture, provide jobs and generate revenue. For the government of Ghana to keep the momentum and confidence in the agricultural sector, these policy interventions must be implemented holistically.

1. Land leasing agreement; there should be a comprehensive transparent leasing agreement between the private sector and chiefs/landowners. We have had several instances where farmlands are disputed over and farmers lose their investments.

2. Removal of excise duty/import duties: The government should remove all excise/import duties on all agricultural machinery, fertilisers and pest control to motivate the private sector to invest more in machinery and other products to boost crop production and harvest.
For fishermen and livestock farmers, same can be done for the outboard motors and the fuel (premixed) for the motors, since storage facilities and veterinary products for the livestock are crucial.

3. Food security systems for fair distribution of food to combat any shortages in the future: Customers and consumers need assurance that prices will be stable and there will be constant supply to meet demand.

4. Agriculture development loan: The government should collaborate with the central bank to make the universal banks grant loan facilities to farmers/fishermen and private sector investors. These loans or credit to the farmers/fishermen should come with a moratorium/grace period between 180 and 365 days before repayments starts.

5. Research and development: The government should collaborate with international partners and educational institutions/universities for exchange and transfer of expertise, technology and new production trends to blend the local practice.

I am very confident that should the government heed to the recommendations made in this write- up, the agricultural sector will experience an unprecedented boost in food production, job creation and revenue generation for the massive economic growth our people need.

The present and future of the agric sector is in the hands of the government to implement policies to improve the sector and the livelihood of our people. The right economic environment is key for the private sector to create the jobs we need.

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