Thursday, 27 November 2014

Ghana invests low in agriculture – SEND GHANA

A Programme Officer of SEND-GHANA, Daniel Adotey Akai has urged government to tackle the low public investment in agriculture to save the sector from collapse.
Speaking at a national dialogue on agriculture for stakeholders in the sector, Mr Akai said the low funding of the sector has negative implications on development and food security.
He said out of the total budgeted amount of GH₵ 226 million earmarked for the agriculture sector in 2014, only GH₵ 121.80 million had been released as at the end of September.
Mr Akai said about GH₵ 111.80 million of the actual sector expenditure, representing 91.8 per cent was spent on poverty related agricultural programmes.
The Dialogue session organised by SEND-GHANA, a civil society organisation, brought together women, parliamentarians, smallholder farmers as well as officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).
It was to draw government’s attention to the issues confronting smallholder farmers and advocate the implementation of result oriented solutions to the challenges.
Mr Akai said the dialogue also provided citizens feedback to government on its programmes and policies and to particularly draw attention to shortcomings and inconsistencies.
Touching on the government fertilizer programme, Mr Akai said government failed to deliver on the programme in 2014 and it was surprising that not a single statement was made on it me in the 2015 budget.
He said another inconsistency in the budget was government’s promised in 2014 to increase the number of mechanisation centres from 89 to 148 but not a single centre was delivered.
Surprisingly, he said, the government in the 2015 budget promised to increase the number to 130 mechanisation centres.
Mr Akai said these inconsistencies undermine efforts at achieving, the targeted six per cent Annual Agricultural Growth Rate and to ensure food security.
He said women farmers faced challenges of limited access to land and credit facilities, unavailability of ready market for their produce and inadequate extension officers.
“One of the most significant gender-based constraints that women farmers face is access to, ownership and control of agricultural land. On the average only 10 per cent of Ghanaian women farmers own land compared to 23 per cent of men, ”Mr Akai said.
The Programme officer said even though the MOFA is not directly responsible for the administration of land in the country, it has oversight responsibility over government lands earmarked for agricultural purposes.
SEND-GHANA’S Policy Brief on Smallholder Agriculture recommended MOFA to come up with an agricultural extension policy that promotes active participation of the private sector, NGOs and Faith-based organisations in extension service delivery.
Also, adequate funding is critical for the delivery of an effective extension services. At the moment funding for the implementation of the policy is woefully inadequate and characterised by untimely releases.

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