The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has said efforts are ongoing to ensure financial challenges facing its regional and district agric offices — which are now operating under metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) — are addressed to speed up the pace development for the sector.
Most agric departments of some MMDAs, since coming under the Local Government Ministry as part of government’s decentralisation agenda, have become ineffective as the financial support and resources needed for work are non-existent.
This development has been attributed to the failure by some MMDAs to consider the agric departments in their budgetary allocations; a situation that is affecting local farming activities and could likely impact on food productivity in some time to come.
Shockingly, checks with some of the districts officers who wanted to remain anonymous indicated that even funds for other administrative functions are not forthcoming — thus rendering most of the staff redundant.
But speaking in an interview with B&FT at the backdrop of Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) regional sensitisation workshop in Kumasi, the Minister of Agric Alhaji Mohammed-Muniru Limuna noted that both the Finance and Local Government Ministries are being engaged on the matter.
He said fiscal decentralisation units of the Ministry of Finance and the Local Government Service are being engaged to ensure that budgetary allocations are made for local agric offices.
However, he appealed to the Local Government Service to ensure that budgetary allocations are equitably distributed to cover agric offices across the country.
The Minister earlier said that the potentials and challenges facing agriculture are known and documented, stressing that it is the role of MOFA to find solutions to those challenges and enable business actors to exploit the potentials.
GASIP, which was being launched, is an agricultural value chain programme designed to be private-sector driven in its approach to facilitate and promote agribusiness.
It is currently being financed by the government of Ghana and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at a cost of US$79.1million over a six-year period. IFAD has also provided a grant of US$10million to mitigate the effects of climate change under the Adaptation for Smallholder Agric Programme (ASAP) bring its total contribution to GASIP to US$86million.
The contribution of financial institutions, MMDAs and beneficiaries therefore brings GASIP’s total financing to about US$113million.
The programme is being implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and aims at contributing to sustainable poverty reduction in rural Ghana, ensuring that agribusinesses including smallholders increase their profitability and resilience to climate change.
It is national in scope and governed by a demand-and-market-driven approach that will provide a basis for scaling-up investments in pro-poor agricultural value chain development led by the private sector.
Public sector providers, including MOFA, EPA, DAs and MOFAD, were also advised to be re-oriented toward this demand-driven approach. It was noted that their technical services as “public good” will basically depend on the approved proposals, which will also spell out the type of institutions and services required.