The agricultural sector is to receive a big boost following the government’s move to establish a GH¢500 million facility to support the growth and development of the sector, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said.
The facility is to serve as some sort of insurance for the commercial banks to give out loans at reasonable rates to farmers, he added.
Known as the Ghana Incentive Based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending Scheme, the President said the facility, which would be managed by the Bank of Ghana, was targeted at reducing risks of investments and promoting agriculture financing.
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the 2018 Africa Green Revolution Forum, a platform for global and African leaders to develop actionable plans that will move African agriculture forward, in Kigali, Rwanda last Saturday.
Other panel members at the forum were the President of Rwanda, Mr Paul Kagame; Deputy President of Kenya, Mr William Ruto, and the Prime Minister of Gabon, Mr Emmanuel Issoze-Ngodet.
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Apart from the government working assiduously to solve the financial constraint, the President said another issue that needed attention was people’s attitude towards agriculture, which he observed was an issue that needed to be addressed systematically.
“People still continue to look upon agriculture as something that people who don’t have anything else to do engage in; something to escape from and not something that will provide a good life which will make an important contribution to the development of society,” he said.
Giving a brief account of agricultural growth in Ghana, the President said between 2014 and 2016, Ghana’s agriculture witnessed an average growth of 2.5 per cent over the period.
He said in 2014, Ghana’s agriculture grew at 4.65 per cent, while in 2015, the sector recorded 2.78 per cent and sightly inched up to 2.95 per cent in 2016.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the situation meant that Ghana’s population growth of three per cent per annum was outstripping growth in agriculture, resulting, therefore, in deepening poverty and increased rural-urban migration, with its attendant social and economic pressures.
With the value of food imports into Ghana increasing from $344 million in 2007 to GH¢2.2 billion in 2016, the President said: “The same amount of money we earned from cocoa in 2016 (GH¢2.2 billion) was being used to pay for food imports. When that happens, you know it is as a result of policy failure.”
In view of the challenges confronting the agricultural sector, the President said on assumption of office in 2017, the government decided to introduce an initiative dubbed: ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ to revive agriculture in Ghana.
Planting for Food and Jobs, he said, was anchored on five main pillars: the provision of improved seeds, supply of fertilisers, provision of dedicated extension services, a marketing strategy and the use of e-Agriculture.
With the introduction of the programme, as well as effective policies and implementation, the President said, the agricultural sector witnessed an impressive 8.36 per cent growth in 2017.
The results of those policies, he added, had made a dramatic impact on food crop yields.
Quoting statistics to support his assertion, President Akufo-Addo said there was an increase in the production of maize, from 1.9 tonnes per hectare in 2016, to three tonnes per hectare in 2017.
There was also an increase in the production of rice from 2.7 tonnes per hectare in 2016 to four tonnes per hectare in 2017; an increase in the production of soya from 1.2 tonnes per hectare in 2016 to 2.5 tonnes per hectare in 2017; and an increase in the production of sorghum from 0.8 tonnes per hectare in 2016 to 1.8 tonnes per hectare in 2017.
“The end result has been a significant increase in agricultural output and productivity. In 2017, our first year in office, 8.36 per cent was our growth rate in agriculture. For me, the first and most obvious area of success has been policy making and implementation,” President Akufo-Addo added.