COVID: 78,000 agribusiness workers sacked – Statistical Service

The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has revealed that over 78,000 staff were laid-off, and more than 267,000 workers had their wages slashed in the agribusiness sector between May 2020 and January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from a survey conducted by the GSS also revealed an estimated 16,000 agribusiness firms remain shut.

 

According to the GSS,  new data on the impact of the pandemic on agribusinesses in Ghana suggests it may take a little more time and support for businesses to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The GSS had reported over 41,000 job losses in its Business Tracker Survey from May 26 to June 27, 2020, 4% of the workforce of 4,311 firms involved in the survey.

Similarly, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimated as many as 100,000 lost jobs in the formal sector and 400,000 being wiped off in the informal sector after evaluating the market in July 2020.

Figures from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) also confirmed the TUC estimates for the same period.

The latest survey results released, funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), collected data from about 8,000 agribusinesses across Ghana.

The findings reveal an increase in the estimated number of job losses for agribusiness workers, from 51,111 during the lockdown to 78,412 in the post-lockdown period.

In the same vein, workers with reduced wages increased from 175,255 during the lockdown period to 267,211 between May 2020 and January 2021.

“The Agribusiness Tracker builds on the COVID-19 Business Tracker, and this is to enable us to compare the data over time. This way, we are better positioned to inform the Government and key stakeholders on the changes over time. We believe this panel data will guide the implementation of the Government’s Ghȼ100 billion COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprise Support (Ghana CARES) Programme, seeking to enable the economy to recover,” noted Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician.

The data also show slow demand for goods and services for most agribusinesses, with over 77,000 firms (61.5%) reporting a decline in sales within the post-lockdown period under review.

This implies that, though there is some improvement after the lock-down restriction (from 84,869 to 77,254 agribusiness firms reporting sales decline), agribusinesses are yet to recover to the level seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

For example, sales growth was 30.2% before the pandemic, 10.7% during the lockdown and 15.4% after the lifting of the restriction.

Similarly, despite some improvement in inputs supply post-lockdown, about half of agribusiness firms (45.9%) still have challenges in getting supply inputs. The regional distribution shows that the Greater Accra region is the most impacted, with almost three out of ten firms (28%) reporting input supply challenges. Even though the drift in policy is relatively slow, as much as 8% of firms have started sourcing from domestic sources.

“Data is very critical in helping Ghana recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This Agribusiness Tracker results will therefore help businesses in the recovery process, as the data will not only inform policy on building back better but doing so inclusively”, noted Charles Abani, UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana.

However, there are some positive trends, as digital technology is beginning to play a significant role in firms’ operations, with almost 9 out of 10 firms leveraging digital platforms, including social media, to market their products. Similarly, mobile money and door-to-door delivery via courier services and internet usage for business operations also increased, with about 8 in 10 firms (77%) increasing the internet use in marketing compared to 19% per cent during the lockdown period.

It is heartwarming to know that using digital technologies to transform data into action is at the heart of Ghana’s COVID-19 response and recovery. It will be important to consolidate this gain through the effective implementation of the National Data Roadmap process to ensure equity and the protection of more businesses”, emphasized Dr Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana.

Also, though an increase in access to finance is yet to get to the pre-pandemic level (22.5%), this has marginally increased from about 12% during the lock-down to 14% post-lockdown. Despite the slight increase, three in ten agribusinesses reported a decrease in accessing finances due to the high interest rate.

The COVID-19 Agribusiness Tracker survey also enquired about the level of awareness among the firms on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which is expected to provide a single market for goods and services in Africa. The findings suggest a low awareness level, with only one in four agribusiness firms knowing about the AfCFTA. The top three support the firms need to participate in AfCFTA includes increased information on business opportunities, reduced cost of credit, and removal of policy or regulatory bottlenecks.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the economy. Agribusinesses especially, have great potential in Ghana with hard-working entrepreneurs needing support to un-lock their opportunities”, noted Regina Bauerochse Barbosa, Country Director GIZ Ghana.

 

 

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