THE THEME “PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS: CONSOLIDATING FOOD SYSTEM IN GHANA”
Peasant Farmers Association Ghana ( PFAG ) congratulates all farmers especially, the smallholder women and the youth and all award winning farmers at both the districts and national levels for their continuous and tireless efforts in the provision of food and other produce for the country. As the country celebrates its 37th edition of the National Farmers Day under the theme “Planting for Food and Jobs: Consolidating food systems in Ghana”, the PFAG call on all Ghanaians to join in recognizing the role smallholder farmers play in the midst of COVID-19 and other associated challenges to still provide the needed food for domestic consumption and for industrial uses.
The PFAG also commends the efforts of government for the commitment to agricultural development and the sustenance of the activities of smallholder farmers through the various interventions such as “Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, One District One Factory” and increase in budget allocation in the 2022 budget for effective implementation of these interventions.
Whiles acknowledging government for its commitment to agricultural development, it is also the expectation of PFAG that, the managers of government agricultural interventions will reflect on the challenges that led to shortage of certain food commodities and consistent increase in food prices in the country in 2021and take into consideration the recommendations provided by PFAG on strategies for improving the sector’s performance.
The PFAG takes the opportunity to further highlight some constraints facing smallholder farmers in the country, positions which have been expressed on several platforms to further remind the nation on this day, that “our food is not secure until we have secured the livelihood of smallholder farmers”.
Challenges to agricultural development and smallholder farmers in Ghana
- Impact of coronavirus – The impact of the pandemic led to fertilizer companies shutting down production or limiting export of fertilizer leading to global shortage of fertilizer for food production. This phenomenon resulted in limited supply of fertilizer resulting in high cost of fertilizer in 2021. Unfortunately, forecasts by industry players suggest a worse situation in 2022 and we urge government to act fast to avert a recurrence of the terrible experience farmers faced in 2021. Moreover, government needs to consider stimulus packages for small holder farmers as we recover from the shocks of the COVID as they were sidelined in the roll out of the CAPBUSS support.
- Impact of climate change – Climate change variabilities such as changing rainfall patterns is prevalent and expected to get worse in the immediate future. This condition is impacting negatively on the biodiversity, the forestry landscape, pest and disease resistance of crops, quality of air and overall productivity. Farmers across the country have experienced the worse form of drought and floods in 2020 and 2021 leading to loss of livelihoods, shelter and domestic water sources. The PFAG is calling on the government to institute policies that support the implementation of environmentally friendly farming techniques such as agro-ecology that reduces the impact of climate change and promotes biodiversity.
- While the PFAG acknowledges the effort of government for conceptualization of the One Village-One Dam initiative as a way of making water available for farming and domestic activities, the PFAG will be glad for government to review the implementation to ensure the expansion of the reservoir capacity, increase the embankment, reposition the faulty spillways, use rock boulders for lining to avoid spillage and plant the appropriate grass to hold the dam walls. When one travels along the length and breadth of Ghana today, the only intervention in irrigation that is well known and currently the source of livelihoods for farmers in districts where these dams are located are the dams constructed in the 1970’s during the General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong’s regime in the 1970’s. The PFAG encourages the current government led by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwo Akufo Addo to consider it a priority to also leave a legacy in the agricultural sector like that of the Achampong Dams and Nkrumah’s agro-industries that can also be referred to in years to come.
- High cost of mechanization services coupled with limited availability of appropriate machinery. The local development of appropriate hand-held machinery which can serve smallholder farmers must be a front burning issue for government and other actors. The proposal in the 2022 budget to continue with the establishment of mechanization centers is laudable, but PFAG hopes there would be improvement in the implementation to avoid the abuse and exploitation of such interventions by businessmen and political elites to the detriment of smallholder farmers as it has happened in the past.
- Neglect of livestock industry, especially the rearing of ruminants such as goats, cattle and sheep in government support programmes poses a serious challenge to meat production and processing in Ghana leading to high importation of meat that could be produced by Ghanaian farmers. The Rearing for Food and Jobs programme (RFJ) seeks to address this constraint, but has not received same level of focus as the PFJ.
- While PFAG appreciates the efforts of government through the PFJ programme that support farmers with subsidized seeds and fertilizer, the institutionalization of a monitoring mechanism to ensure that quality fertilizer and seeds are supplied to farmers should be a non-negotiable. There are reports of poor quality fertilizer in 2021 leading to poor crop yields. The plan to generate farmer data based for the purposes of targeting, especially arrangement for smallholder women and youth farmers to access subsidized fertilizer should be given priority attention.
- Whiles PFAG is aware of the need for government to raise revenue for the purposes of providing services and execution of the various interventions proposed in the 2022 budget, the imposition of taxes on mobile money and other electronic transactions will discourage farmers from participation in the government digitization agenda. In the worst case that government still thinks the electronic-taxes is cardinal and is the only way of generating revenue, we suggest government to raise the threshold from GHS100.00 to GHS 1000.00 to farmers since they are already overburdened with various risk, high cost of production leading to producing at a loss.
Finally, PFAG doors are widely opened to collaborate with government to provide practical developmental issues bordering the sectors’ development.
National President (Abdul-Rahman Mohammed)