Published in Myjoyonline.com
Some farmer representatives have poured their frustrations at government for failing to prioritize the sector.
At a programme organised by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and SEND Ghana to take stock of the 2014 agriculture season, some frustrated farmers narrated how their produce have been left to rot in the market due to lack of market and storage facilities.
Tetteh Nartey, a farmer at Abokobi in the Ga South Municipality narrated how a colleague water melon farmer virtually had to give away his produce as gift to a buyer.
“My friend had to fill the car boot of this buyer with water melon for just ¢5.00,” Nartey narrated with grief.
Corroborating the concerns of the Abokobi farmer, the newly elected president of the PFAG, Abdul Rahman Mohammed expressed disappointment with the performance of the agriculture sector for the year 2014.
“We have not been able to perform well in 2014,” he said, adding “there is a sign of low productivity.”
Touching on government’s failure to provide fertilizer for farmers for 2014, Abdul Rahman said government’s explanation is not good enough.
Government says it has no money to pay the suppliers of fertilizer having been indebted to the tune of 93 million cedis to suppliers.
But Abdul Rahman told Myjoyonline.com, at the sidelines of the meeting, that government would have found money for the project if it deemed the sector an important one.
On the Youth in Agriculture Programme, the PFAG president said the youth cannot venture into a sector that is not lucrative.
“The policy is good. But what we are saying is that before the youth will be interested in venturing into agriculture, they should see a sign of people benefitting in the sector before they can go in. It is by choice, if you are calling somebody to join something he doesn’t think will benefit him then you are wasting your time,” he complained.
Abdul Rahman also touched on the need for government to increase the number of irrigation facilities in the country.
“…The dams are there. What government needs to do is to rehabilitate them. I think that government should do more about irrigation”.
Charles Adama who was speaking on behalf of the Sector Minister Fifi Kwetey admitted that the Ministry’s activities are hampered because monies budgeted for the year are most often slashed by the Finance Ministry.
He said sometimes only 20 per cent of the entire budget sum for the year is released and that makes it difficult for projects to be carried out.
He blamed the Finance Ministry for not prioritizing agriculture.
Asked if there is no priority for agriculture, Mr Adama said the ministry of agriculture naturally prioritizes activities from the Ministry. “So whatever we send to Finance is our priority. Finance decides what to give us. If they don’t prioritize agriculture, they give us little money.”
“So then government does not prioritize agriculture,” the reporter probed further but the minister’s representative said “I cannot speak for government and so cannot state whether or not that is the case.”
Mr Adama also blamed some farmers for not examining the market before going into the production of a commodity.
He said the ministry has adopted a value chain approach where farmers are taught about the possiblity of market before going into a production.
The programme themed: “2014 year of agriculture: What does it mean for food security, nutrition and national growth in Ghana?” was jointly organised by PFAG and Send Ghana and was supported by TrustAfrica.
By Nathan Gadugah