Peasants farmers, speaking through their umbrella organisation, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), have made three key contributions into the upcoming 2019 budget statement.
The farmers want the Finance Ministry to ensure that the next budget statement will promote local capacity for input production, facilitate access to appropriate farm machinery and tackle post-harvest losses of farm produce.
“PFAG proposes that there should be an increased public investment in the seed sector for Ghanaian seed growers to increase their seed production. This will create more jobs, increase crop productivity and contribute to achieving the vision of “Ghana beyond aid”.
“The focus, for now, should be on the increasing support for the development of foundation seeds and certified seeds for the open-pollinated seeds and hybrid seeds. We propose that in budgeting for the Planting for Food and Jobs programme next year, the substantial allocation should be reserved for the support and promotion of the local seed industry,” the farmers said.
The full statement by the peasant farmers is published below.
INPUT INTO THE 2019-2022 BUDGET FROM PEASANT FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF GHANA
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), in response to the call by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday 2nd October 2018, for citizens to submit input into the 2019-2022 Budget, and having consulted with its members across the country has identified three main areas in the agricultural sector for consideration.
The areas are as follows.
Promotion of local capacity for input production
Access to appropriate farm machinery
Post-harvest management/ Agro-processing
1. Promotion of local capacity for input production
In seeking to modernize the agriculture sector expected to lead to the structural transformation of the national economy, the Planting for Food and Jobs programme was introduced in 2017. This flagship programme through one of its thematic areas was to provide timely access to adequate quantity of quality seeds and fertilizer. Since the implementation of the program, about 4,400 MT of seeds were subsidized under the programme in 2017 and available information indicates that over 80% of the seeds were imported due to the inability of local seed producers to meet demand. Apart from the incompatibility of foreign seeds to the local environment, reliance on imports creates jobs for foreigners and kills the performance of Ghana seed industry.
PFAG proposes that there should be increased public investment in the seed sector for Ghanaian seed growers to increase their seed production. This will create more jobs, increase crop productivity and contribute to achieving the vision of “Ghana beyond aid”. The focus for now should be on the increasing support for the development of foundation seeds and certified seeds for the open-pollinated seeds and hybrid seeds. We propose that in budgeting for the Planting for Food and Jobs programme next year, the substantial allocation should be reserved for the support and promotion of the local seed industry.
2. Access to appropriate farm machinery
Another major challenge that farmers face, is the unavailability of appropriate mechanization that addresses the needs of smallholder farmers. These include small harvesters, planters, power tillers and “motor kings” etc. Since 2007, the Government has been providing subsidized agricultural machines to individual farmers and private enterprises known as Agricultural Mechanization Services Centers (AMSECs) to offer tractor-hire services to small-scale farmers. The focus has been on tractors. However, this model rather benefitted few businessmen and large-scale farmers. These individuals purchased the subsidized tractors and hire them at commercial rates to the smallholder farmers and defeating the purpose of the subsidies.
PFAG recommends the following to help increase access to mechanization services:
The state facilitates the manufacturing or importation of appropriate mechanization such as power tillers, small planters and harvesters, corn shellers, shea pickers and steamers, hand weeders, cassava harvesters which addresses specific needs. This is currently being practised in India, China and many countries in Europe. This is possible by providing financial guarantees or tax incentives for manufacturers and importers. Farmers and farmer groups with credibility should be identified and supported to purchase these machines at affordable prices.
Local fabricators such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), GRATIS and KUMASI MAGAZINE could all be supported financially and youth trained on appropriate and better designs to manufacture specific machines and their spare parts of local relevance in Ghana.
3. Post-harvest management and opportunities for agro-processing
The government of Ghana over the years has focused on investment in food production with little investment to reduce postharvest losses. Whiles investing in fertilizer and seeds is not entirely bad, postharvest losses pose more threat to food security campaign than low production. Available statistics indicate that as much as 60% of yam produced in Ghana loss through postharvest losses. According to Africa postharvest loss information system, losses in maize, rice and sorghum is pegged at 5-70%, 11-27% and 5-15% respectively. That of perishable foods like Tomato, watermelon, cabbage, garden egg etc. could be as high as 100% in some occasions.
Causes of Post-Harvest Loss (PHL) range from lack of appropriate harvesting equipment, lack of storage, lack of basic processing equipment and bad feeder roads etc. Also poor transportation network and also, limited appropriate vehicles for transporting fresh food to urban centres. As a result, there is high food costs especially during off seasons and in urban areas, high perishability of fruits and vegetables and glut in some farming communities’ whiles same food is imported with high prices in the urban areas. PFAG, therefore, propose the following considerations for managing Post-harvest loss in the national budget:
Provision or subsidizing appropriate postharvest management equipment such as small harvesters, processors, cold vans and appropriate storage and marketing facilities. This has been done in India and is currently practised in China to support smallholder farmers. Smallholder farmer groups could be identified to purchase these equipment are a reduce prices.
The government’s one district one factory policy on industrialisation should focus on agro-processing industries at different scales. The efforts should be in growing local industries and enforcing the use of local raw materials.
Also, with the high youth unemployment and weak marketing constraints, engaging more hands in processing, packing and distribution will create jobs for the unemployed youth who shy away from direct farming activities. They could also be mandated to ensure regional distribution and regional sale points to avoid reliance on imports of same food produced in Ghana.
On extension services, and given the financial clearance for the recruitment of about 2,700 extension officers, we propose that adequate provision is made for their logistics and other equipment needed to perform their duties effectively.