The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Bryan Acheampong, has assured farmers across the country of his resolve to work closely with them to increase yields and productivity and reduce the importation of food crops into the country. He gave the assurance that the Ministry was implementing strategic measures to guarantee that farmers around the nation have access to inputs and other production costs in order to lessen their burden and also boost their incomes.
The Minister gave this assurance when farmers, traders, and aggregators from the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) called on him to discuss pertinent issues affecting the growth of the sector. The issues discussed ranged from the current onion crisis, which has resulted in the lock-up of over 60 trucks of imported onions at the Benin and Burkina Faso border, the implementation of the PFJ 2.0 and the implications of the new Tax Exemptions Act on the prices of agricultural inputs.
Addressing the onion issue and the plea by the onion traders for the Minister to intervene to enable them to move their goods into the country, the Minister asserted that the government’s preoccupation was to ensure enough production of onions locally to reduce and eventually stop its importation. He insisted that while the government was concerned about their locked-up goods and was working diplomatically to resolve them, the priority of the Ministry was to bring onion producers together and work out a modality that would address the current challenges that were preventing them from producing enough for the country.
He continued that the Ministry has worked out modalities for the PFJ 2.0, which is expected to be launched later in the month and will address the major concerns of farmers. He mentioned that with the Aggregator system under the PFJ 2.0, farmers will have access to seeds, fertilizers, extension services, mechanization, and post-harvest services and will only repay the cost of these services after harvesting. Responding to concerns of farmers regarding the criteria for the selection of the Aggregators under the model, the Minister assured that existing aggregators will not be crowded out due to this program and that the Ministry will continually work with the farmers to ensure that the right aggregators who are working with the farmers are selected for this program. He assured that the program is inclusive in nature and that all farmers, including youth, female farmers, and aggregators, will form an integral part of it.
Regarding the implications of the Tax Exemptions Act on agricultural prices, the Minister acknowledged the challenge but added that the cabinet was considering the addition of agricultural inputs for exemptions. However, he added that, in spite of the ongoing process, the Ministry continues to approve requests for exemptions for agricultural inputs by importers. He, however, lamented the failure of these importers to reflect these exemptions in their prices and urged them to reduce the prices of their products. He stated that “even though the proposal has been sent for cabinet’s approval, as at August alone, we have approved over 60 exemptions request from importers. The problem is when prices goes up, no matter what we do, our business are unwilling to bring prices down and that is the problem. Irrespective, I will do all I can to ensure your request is granted”.
Speaking on behalf of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, the Executive Director, Dr. Charles Nyaaba, was grateful to the Minister for his unwavering resolve to work with farmers to improve the fortunes of the sector. He pledged the Association’s cooperation and support to the Minister to enable him to achieve his long-term vision of ensuring food sufficiency in the country. He also called on all farmers, value chain actors and service providers to join in helping to make Ghana food hub for the sub-region and urged them to also bring on board proposals as the Minister was open to receive recommendations from various stakeholders.