The Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) has asked the government to consider devoting funds annually for the development of road infrastructure of farming communities, in the country.
They said the government should at least construct 20-kilometers of roads of farming communities, in each year, as well as devoting the greater part of the annual budget to the agriculture sector among others.
The poor nature of roads leading to many farming districts and communities in the country has to a large extent contributed to post-harvest losses often experienced, every year. The recent closure of the Buipe and Yapei bridges, in the Northern region, for example, is said to have led to the loss of many perishable farm produce being transported to market centers and other parts of the country
But the government has said it is going to address the issue of agric roads that continue to affect food production. In its 2018 budget, the sector was allocated about GH¢700 million, as part of the Agricultural Marshall Plan, which is expected to significantly revamp the agric sector.
This is also expected to enable it to lead the effort towards economic transformation. The amount is to be invested in agricultural transformation programmes, construct and refurbish roads linking farms to urban centers and provide storage facilities for farm produce.
Under the plan, some key road projects will be executed in selected food growing areas across the country and create the conditions necessary for attracting private capital, local and international, into large-scale commercial agriculture ventures and agribusinesses.
In a statement ahead of the 33rd Farmers’ Day celebration, in Kumasi, the agric journalists’ advocacy group lauded government’s intention to set up a National Development Bank to purposefully support investment in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
“We also acknowledge Government’s policy direction and interventions – planting for food and jobs as well as the Agricultural Infrastructure Warehouses and Markets programme – to serve as incentives to get young people into agriculture and ensure improved production.”
But it is their expectation that the Agriculture Infrastructure and Warehouses and Markets programme will help address the challenges of price volatility and post-harvest losses which they partly attributed to the pressure on farmers to sell their produce immediately after harvesting, where food is in abundance and cheap on the market.
They stated that there is more to be done for the nation to achieve the full value of agriculture, particularly in the area of poultry and livestock. For instance, they contended that the country’s domestic supply of broiler meat is just 10 percent, whiles the remaining 90 percent is imported.
“Our interaction with poultry and livestock farmers reveals that Ghana cannot boast of any serious dairy production and that all the milk intake, ice creams, and yoghurt are produced from imported milk, despite the existing vast potential in the country.”
They acknowledged that poultry, aquaculture and livestock industry will provide a substantial base for employment and development in if the government shows commitment to the sector.
The statement, therefore, asked for local producers to be assisted to become competitive through the provision of funds which comes with zero to 10 percent interest.
“For us as journalists, we believe that a comprehensive agriculture development programme that will respond to all the sectors of the agriculture industry for positive and sustainable growth is the way forward.
We need to improve livelihoods and ensure food security, eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture, improve agriculture research, technology dissemination, and adoption, and strengthen capacity for agribusinesses as well as improve access to information on agric strategies and their implementation.”
Whilst doing this they also emphasized the need to promote trade-related capacity building to enhance market access and adopting productivity-enhancing practices in order to achieve set targets.
The statement, which was signed by the President, Mr. Richmond Frimpong and the General Secretary, Mr. Ernest Kofi Adu, congratulated farmers and fishers for their continuous support to food security and contribution to the economy.