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Flaws in government’s approach to agric - AGI

June 5, 2017, 10:31 a.m.

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is worried over government’s decision to implement key agricultural policies without making it a point to tackle some of the fundamental challenges plaguing the industry.

According to Fatima Alimohamed, Vice Chairperson of the AGI Agriculture Sector, despite the introduction of laudable initiatives like the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ and ‘One-District One-Factory’ by the government, the major challenge of access to funds still remains.

“The agriculture sector has several challenges but the biggest challenge to date, which still needs to be addressed but hasn’t been addressed even as we are about to go with the ‘One-District One-Factory or the Planting for Food and Jobs, is the financial support. Because banks are still not willing to finance agriculture”, she lamented.

“Nobody is willing to lend to the sector. Microfinance institutions are not willing to give you loans unless they come in with some ridiculous interest. That is the reason I am advocating that if you want people to come on-board, make them not just as stakeholders but shareholders.

Today, as a farmer, which bank are you going to ask for a loan; they are going to start asking for your balances, collateral, documents and nobody has that, so finance is still an issue which still needs to be addressed.”

Ms. Alimohamed was speaking at the launch of the 8th Annual National Food and Agriculture Show (FAGRO) 2017, on the theme, ‘Creating jobs in agriculture - Northern Region in focus.’

This year’s show and exhibition will be held from September 26-30, at the Tamale Jubilee Park, in the Northern Region. The event is expected to bring together various stakeholders in the agricultural sector, including farmer groups, input manufacturers and supplies, machinery manufacturers, processors and policy makers to share ideas towards modernising the sector.

Given that the country’s lending rate is about 30 percent, and in some cases higher for the sector, Ms. Alimohammed, CEO of African Brand Warrior, said such rates are ridiculous and prohibitive to the growth of agriculture value chain.

Apart from this, she explained that even when farmers produce, they are unable to get the food to where it is needed most, because of poor infrastructure in farming communities.

To ensure sustainability and long-term development of the sector, she advocated the need for agriculture-friendly financing policies as well as proper and comprehensive coordination between all the players in the entire agriculture value chain.

The Managing Director of FAGRO Secretariat, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, explained that this year’s will feature a wide range of activities, including an agribusiness boot camp, and a leadership summit on how to support women in agriculture. It will also bring together students from all Agric Colleges to discuss the challenges, and career opportunities in the sector.

“It is expected to create enormous networking opportunities for players in the sector. We have the Agric College Dialogue that will bring together students from all the agriculture colleges to discuss the educational challenges, and career opportunities. There will also be a workshop for farm associations and co-operatives on the state of associations and co-operatives and how to structure a strong one,” Ms. Akosa added.