Over the years, the Agriculture sector has suffered resource constraints for achieving food security and this needs to be addressed as Ghana gets ready to present its mid-year budget review and supplementary estimates for 2020.
Packaging Agriculture as a tool to use for the country’s economic recovery out of COVID-19 is the surest way to close the poverty and income inequality gap.
Civil Society Organisations including the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and SEND GHANA are therefore imploring the government to choose this economic recovery path by increasing agriculture spending.
Speaking on agriculture sector led-economy recovery at a public forum, Professor Godfred Bokpin, an Economist and Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana Business School, said, the Agric sector has been underfunded. And therefore, “the Mid-year budget review gives us the right opportunity to right the wrong. Given the fact that if you look at the social accounting matrix, spending in Agric with the uptake has higher income and employment multiplier effect as compared to any other sector.
If you want to drag a lot of Ghanaians out of poverty and narrow the income inequality then Agric offers the surest way because the inequality reducing the effect of Agric is one of the highest in our country. Agric can be packaged to lead the recovery. The impact of COVID-19 has not affected the Agric sector the same way it has affected other sectors of the economy.
Bokpin argues that food index in Ghana has surged since the country reported its first case of Coronavirus disease and the fear of COVID-19 is collapsing economies. “This requires that, as a country, we need substantial financial provision that can help sustain farming activities.”
The forum, organised by Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) in collaboration with SEND GHANA and with support from the International Budget Partnership, was held under the theme: Anchoring Ghana’s Post-COVID Recovery on Agriculture: Investing in Smallholder Farmers for Food Security and Growth” to elicit inputs for consideration into the upcoming mid-year budget review to be presented by the Ministry of Finance.
On her part, a Deputy Director, Policy Planning and Budget Directorate, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Madam Josephine Quagraine, mentioned that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is in the process of developing a strategy that will enhance access to finance for crop and livestock producers and processors, which would implore banks to apply their expanded pool of funds to finance actors in the maize, rice, soy, and poultry supply chains.
Ben Kanati, a smallholder farmer at Ashaiman in adding his voice acknowledged the government’s investment in the agric sector and lamented that “over the years Agriculture seems not to have received the required investment as stipulated by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). For Ghana to succeed, let’s look at the way of Agriculture by increasing investment in the sector.”
The forum served as a platform to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the economy as a whole and justify the prioritization of agriculture as the engine to propel Ghana out of economic quagmire due to the COVID.