Mid-Year Budget: Invest US $2 bn in food production – Agriculturists
The government needs to invest at least US $2billion to support agriculture to revamp the economy, CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness, Anthony S.K Morrison, has suggested.
With the economy impacted by the unexpected coronavirus, Mr Morrison believes a sure way of recovery is local production and the government needs to channel resources in that direction.
Ahead of the Mid-Year Budget Review by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, Mr Morrison outlined his expectations in an interview with theghanareport.com.
“I would say that a US $2 billion dollar investment into the agriculture sector, anything less than that will spell doom for this country,” he stated.“
Give more money to the rice sector, maize sector, poultry industry, and find indigenous ways to produce local additives that can be used as feed for poultry and upper sector, so we stop the importation of unnecessary additives”.
He said agriculture industry players expect to see some form of robust and aggressive agriculture sector local content strategy which incorporates irrigation, adoption of agricultural technology and support for markets.
He is also worried about huge post-harvest losses for fruits and vegetables and perishable roots and tuber crops.
Even though the government has earmarked some GHC 600m for Small and Medium Scale (SMEs) business, he said it would have wished production was tackled before services and other sectors.
He does not support the en mass stimulus and would have wished government targeted agribusinesses where production was centred.
“We produce less, so there should be no need for you to have a generic approach to supporting smaller-scale enterprises. What they should have done was to limit the kind of support to some value chains in vegetables, fruits, rice, etc,” he stressed.
He said several countries, especially Western nations, have resorted to protectionism and Ghana should do the same to preserve agriculture and ensure food security.
He is proposing an aggressive local content policy to focus on an import substitution strategy to cut the volumes of foreign products that find their way on Ghanaian markets.
Prioritise agriculture – GAWU
For his part, General Secretary of the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Edward Kareweh, raised issues about farmers being sidelined from government intervention.
He said the majority of smallholder farmers could not access the GHC 600 million due to unfavourable conditions.
“We farmers do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), so it means they were disqualified from the outset,” he lamented.
He believes a better form of allocation would have been sectorial disbursement and not blanket SME allocation.
‘So far, what has been put there does not prioritise agriculture. They did not prioritise agriculture. We have raised concerns about that, and I still hope that if there’s going to be further intervention by way of allocation from this coming budget, then the government should take measures to prioritise agriculture.”