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22.03.2006 Regional News

PAF should be paid in kind instead of cash


Saltpond (C/R), March 22, GNA - A banker has urged district assemblies to pay the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) meant for farmers to increase their output in kind instead of cash.

He said most of the time, he beneficiaries misused the fiscal cash and this had rendered the programme ineffective.

Mr Samuel Okyere, the manager of the Mankessim branch of the Ghana Commercial Bank, who made the suggestion, said the PAF has not made any significant impact on poverty reduction.

He said the district assemblies could acquire large tracts of land, prepare it and share it to the applicants without lands and provide them with the necessary inputs. The assemblies could monitor the work and even find markets for the products, the manager stated and added that, by so doing the assemblies could easily recover the loans. Mr Okyere made the suggestion at Saltpond at a forum on Validation of Baseline Survey, conducted by the Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) at Ekumfi Atakwaa, in the Mfantseman District of the Central Region. International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada funded both the research and the forum.

Mr Okyere advised farmers to take farming as a business and conduct their activities properly to enable them to attract support from the banks.

The manager stated that dishonesty of some customers have made the banks sceptic in giving out loans. Dr Irene Egyir, Agricultural Economist and a lead researcher, University of Ghana and a member of GINKS said the purpose of the research was to enhance information and knowledge sharing among underprivileged communities in Ghana by defining mechanisms and tools to generate and disseminate relevant local content, using appropriate and acceptable ICT formats. She said the forum with the stakeholders, which included food crop farmers, bankers, agricultural extension agents, NGOs social workers and administrators, was to prepare the ground for the implementation of the findings of the survey Dr Egyir said the Atakwaa project was a pilot one and its success story would be replicated in other communities. Mr Yaw Adu Asamoah, the District coordinating Director commended GINKS for bringing the project to the district. He said the assembly had invested in ICT by hooking the district to the Internet.

Mr Asamoah said there were plans to hook the agriculture information centre at Mankessim on to the Internet to enable the outside world access information on farming activities and opportunities available in the district.