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17.11.2003 Business & Finance

Give more resources to farmers - Osafo-Maafo

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Accra, Nov. 17, GNA - Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo on Monday asked managers of the country's agriculture to channel resources as inputs directly to farmers such as improved seeds, equipment and subsidies instead of spending such monies on overseas training trips and over staffed project management units.

He said the country's agriculture development could have received a boost if monies spent on overseas training; consultancies, workshops and various studies over the years had been used to provide credit to peasant farmers.

It is estimated that about 20 million dollars have been expended on various studies, consultancies, and overseas training related to the promotion of agriculture in the last 10 years.

He said he was not against preparing studies or providing consultancy in agriculture, explaining that he was o the view that enough paper work and consultancy work had been done and it was about time the findings were implemented.

"We must now adopt practical measures to develop agriculture." Mr Osafo-Maafo was speaking at the opening of a two-day workshop on the role of agriculture and rural development in fighting poverty and promoting growth and employment.

The Government, World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) are organizing the workshop to draw up an action plan to move the country's agriculture production forward.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said while the problems hindering agriculture growth in the rural areas had been over researched and documented, the vision to implement practical measures to improve agriculture was lacking.

"Effective financing arrangements for farming at the micro, small and medium enterprises and large scale level continue to be a serious bottleneck in our development of agriculture."

The Minister, therefore, appealed to the country's development partners to cut down on the proportion of resources being paid to consultants to undertake various diagnostic and feasibility studies and rather channel the monies directly to assisting poor farmers to increase production and alleviate poverty.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the Government was adopting an improved land administration; small-scale irrigation schemes, development of farmer-based organizations to facilitate credit, inputs and markets among other measures as programmes to enhance agriculture production and boost rural development as a catalyst for growth.

He asked the participants to come out with workable action programmes to tackle rural poverty and stimulate growth.

Mr Lennart Bage, IFAD President, said an international trade and subsidies regime, which was fair to all, was key to equitable rural development in the developing countries.

He said poverty could not be eradicated without involving the poor in decision-making and called for the strengthening of capacity of small holders and rural entrepreneurs to boost economic growth.

Mr Mats Karlson, World Bank Country Director, said strong macroeconomic fundamentals were essential to propel the growth of the agriculture sector.

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