The government will soon announce a special purpose vehicle to offer affordable and reliable credit facility to farmers, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
He said that would enable farmers in the agricultural value chain to be competitive, especially with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in July this year.
He said although agricultural financing was a tricky business, Ghana could not afford to lose the benefits that would come with the free trade area, hence the need to offer financial and technical support to farmers to get them to be competitive in continental trade.
President Nana Akufo-Addo disclosed this when members of the agri-business industry community, made up of players in the agricultural value chain and the Farmer Award Winners Association paid a courtesy call on him at the Jubilee House yesterday as part of their annual meetings.
It was the third time the group had met with the President to dialogue with him on issues concerning the agricultural sector and how to improve it further.
The President noted that Ghana had to prepare adequately for the free trade area, noting that how the country organised credit for its farmers was going to be a major issue.
He observed that some countries were performing greatly with their agricultural systems and cited Cote d’Ivoire as an example, adding: “If we don’t wake up and organise ourselves well, we are going to have a big problem.”
He said African leaders had continually committed themselves to the free trade area and stressed the need for Ghanaians in general to be up and doing, so that Ghana could take advantage of the AfCFTA and not be caught on the wrong foot.
Reacting to a request from the farmers for a single-digit interest rate for the agricultural sector, President Akufo-Addo said a single-digit interest rate was one of the fundamental issues which, if addressed, would be good, saying: “I think it should not be beyond us.”
He said Cote d’Ivoire was raking in $16 billion annually from agriculture, while Ghana was making just $2 billion, and said it was only Ghanaian farmers who could fill the gap and bring Ghana to the $16 billion mark and beyond.
He said the agricultural sector was crucial to national development because it provided the raw materials for industries that were springing up and export produce for foreign exchange, while feeding the people as well.
He said it was good news that Ghana had been able to overcome the ban placed on it by the EU against exports to its markets and said the arrangements that had helped to overcome that hurdle must be maintained.
President Akufo-Addo said the government would work out modalities to ensure that locally grown teak trees were purchased for electrification projects in the country to enable local teak growers to also benefit from their toil.
The Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of Agriculture, Dr Nurah Gyeile, said the government had, in the past two weeks, released GH¢50 million to the buffer stock company to purchase agricultural produce for storage.
He said the construction of over 80 storage facilities had been awarded on contract and the facilities were at various stages of construction.
Meanwhile, he said, existing storage facilities were available and urged farmers to make use of them.
He disclosed that over 19,000 metric tonnes of seeds had been produced locally for farmers.
The Spokesperson for the farmers and the agri-business community, Mr Davis Korboe, commended President Akufo-Addo for his commitment to the growth of the industry and cited, for example, the President’s recent call for Ghanaians to patronise local rice, a move that had improved market accessibility for rice farmers.
He said the issue of fertiliser was raised with the President in one of their meetings and said “we are happy to tell you that access to fertiliser has increased from 180,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 400,000 metric tonnes”.
He said the government’s mechanisation programme in terms of tractors and other equipment had helped in advancing agriculture.
Source: Daily Graphic
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