Let’s deepen collaboration on agriculture, agribusiness — Panellists
Panellists at a presidential breakfast meeting on agriculture and agribusiness financing have called for deepening of collaboration among stakeholders to boost support for the sector.
They mentioned financial institutions, government agencies and agricultural sector players as some of the stakeholders who needed to work together to grow the sector.
The panellists said such collaborations would facilitate the development of innovative financial products and services tailored to meet specific needs of farmers and agribusinesses.
The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Accra last Monday.
The panellists comprised the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending Project (GIRSAL), Kwesi Korboe; the Managing Director of the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB), Alhassan Yakubu-Tali; the Divisional Director in charge of Retail and Business Banking at the Fidelity Bank, Nana Esi Idun-Arkhurst, and the Chief Executive Officer of Opportunity International, Kwame Owusu-Boateng.
The panellists said agriculture was the backbone of the country’s economy which employed a significant number of the people but access to finance remained a major challenge to farmers and agribusinesses in the country.
Mr Korboe acknowledged that although there was lending to agriculture and agribusinesses, it was payment of the loans that was the problem.
For his part, Mr Yakubu-Tali expressed worry over the lack of long-term financing for the agricultural sector.
He said it included concessional long-term funding which he described as ‘patience capital’ – money that could wait for all the agricultural cycles to be completed between five and 10 years to ensure low interest financing.
Mr Yakubu-Tali said 24 per cent of ADB’s loan portfolio went to the agricultural sector and that the bank, which was the leading agriculture financing bank in the country, had invested over GH¢1 billion in the sector.
Nana Esi Idun-Arkhurst also said more than 10 per cent of Fidelity Bank’s loan portfolio went to the agricultural sector, adding “we need to shape our minds and focus on not just agriculture, but agribusiness”.
“It is difficult to find data and information on the sector and that makes it difficult to really understand the kind of risk a bank takes when it underwrites an agric facility. There is a lot more that needs to be done to make it easier for the sector to grow,” she said.
The CEO of Opportunity International, Kwame Owusu-Boateng, whose savings and loans organisation supports about 22,000 smallholder farmers with loans as low at GH¢4,000, said financing the agricultural sector was core to rural prosperity and national development.
Other speakers included the CEO of Development Bank Ghana, Kwamina Duker; a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Elsie Addo Awadzi, and the CEO of Ghana Association of Banks, John Awuah, who all shared views on creating an enabling environment for effective agricultural financing in the country.
The panellists further called for more focus on the rice value chain and the horticultural sectors by providing quality seeds to farmers, processing of agricultural produce, building infrastructure such as roads and storage facilities, and market linkages for job creation for the youth.
The 2018 National Best Farmer, James Obeng Boateng, appealed to the government to resource the Tree Crops Development Authority to deliver its mandate for the growth of the agricultural sector.