Twenty thousand Small Holder Farmers across Ghana have petitioned President John Mahama’s government to invest a certain percentage of revenues generated from oil in Small Holder Agriculture.
The petitioners say their action had been necessitated by the lack of priority attention paid to the sector by successive governments. They said although the sector holds the key to economic transformation in Ghana, it had not been receiving adequate funding.
The PFAG mobilized 20,000 signatures from farmers and the Ghanaian public across all the ten regions in the country which were presented to the ministry of finance and economic planning and parliament by the National President of the Association.
The farmers disappointment at what they said was the shaby treatment meted out to the leaders by the finance ministry when they went to present the petition to the ministry. They were, however, full of praise for Parliament for the reception given them. The farmers' leaders said they were particularly impressed that Parliament gave them hearing and promised to impress on the president to give the petition the attention it deserves.
According to the Programme Officer of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Mr. Charles Kwowe Nyaaba, the oil resources could become a curse for the country if proper targeting is not made in terms of priority investments.
“Evidence from resource rich countries including Indonesia and Malaysia where substantial portions of their petroleum revenues were invested in agriculture, has shown that poverty levels reduced faster due to improved income levels of rural small holder farmers,” he said.
Mr. Nyaaba said, Indonesia, for instance used its oil revenue to supply fertilizer to farmers and develop new crops, building the basis for the country’s green revolution.
“They also invested heavily in agricultural research to identify new commodities that could improve on export potential. Malaysia also invested its oil revenues into forestry and palm oil, building very successful industries. Another successful resource rich country, Chile, used proceeds from copper to invest into new agricultural commodities, such as salmon, a product that had not been part of their country’s export products before,” he stated.
He said, “Even in Ghana, research has shown that at the national level, agricultural public expenditures have the highest returns in terms of agricultural productivity. For instance, one marginal cedi invested in agriculture yields GH¢16.8m returns. This is against a marginal cedi invested in feeder roads with returns of GH¢8.8, and that of health sector investment with returns of GH¢1.3. In spite of the potential of this sector to contribute to the country’s development, there continues to exist a wide funding gap in public expenditure. Agricultural share of public spending is currently at 8.5%, which has been insufficient to generate the levels of growth that would reduce poverty levels significantly.”
The National President of the Association; Mr. Mohammed Adam Nashiru who presented the petition on behalf of the peasant farmers in the country appealed to President Mahama to as a matter of urgency and also in fulfillment of his electoral promise to the farmers, prioritize some key areas where the oil revenue should be applied and provision should be made for same in the 2014 budget.
Mr. Nashiru listed the areas as small holder agro processing, irrigation, improved seeds, improved extension services, access to credit, and access to market.
The coalition of NGOs which is undertaking the oil for food campaign is made up of Africa Centre for Energy Policy, General Agricultural Workers Union, Friends of the Nation, Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition and Food Spine and being sponsored by OXFAM