The government plans to allocate about GH¢700 million of 2018 budget to the Agricultural Marshall Plan, which is expected to significantly revamp the agric sector and enable it to lead the effort towards economic transformation.
The GRAPHIC BUSINESS understands that the government is hopeful that the much-touted programme will build on the success of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFAJ) programme, an initiative launched by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to help improve productivity in the sector.
The amount is to be invested in agricultural transformation programmes, construct and refurbish roads linking farms to urban centers and provide storage facilities for farm produce.
The government is convinced that the Marshall plan is part of efforts to give true meaning to agriculture as the major economic driver, by modernising the sector to also achieve food security and profitability for farmers.
The agric sector has, over the years, recorded low growth largely due to challenges such as effective policies, inadequate access to funding by stakeholders in the agric value chain, lack of machinery, technological expertise, storage facilities, transportation and ready market for agricultural produce.
Consequently, under the plan, some key road projects will be executed in selected food growing areas across the country and create the conditions necessary for attracting private capital, local and international, into large scale commercial agriculture ventures and agribusinesses.
Another key feature of the plan will be the removal of duties on agro-processing and manufacturing equipment and machinery as well as the implementation of a grant funding facility for agribusiness start-ups.
Performance of the sector
According to the 2017 budget, agriculture recorded growth rates, with the livestock and the fishing sub-sectors being the best growth performers.
The crops sub-sector grew by 3.3 per cent on a provisional basis, an improvement over the 2015 performance. Cocoa is estimated to have grown by 2.5 per cent, indicating an improvement over the negative 2.3 per cent it registered in 2015.
A seven-year contribution of agriculture to GDP shows a steady decline. Agric’s performance dipped from 31.8 per cent in 2009 to 29.8 per cent in 2010, before easing further down to 25.3 per cent in 2011, 22.7 per cent in 2012, 22.4 per cent in 2013, 21.5 per cent in 2014, and 19 per cent in 2015.
The agricultural sector is projected to grow by 3.5 per cent in 2017, supported by the continued recovery of the crops sub-sector and projected increases in the production of rice, maize and the tubers.
It was estimated that the livestock sub-sector will maintain a stable growth of 5.3 per cent in 2017, just like 2016.
Overall, the agricultural sector was projected to grow by 4.0 per cent and 4.2 per cent in 2018 and 2019, respectively, thereby attaining an average growth rate of 3.9 per cent for 2017-2019.