Managing Director at Dutch Development Agency, Solidaridad Isaac Gyamfi says Ghana’s quest to wean itself off foreign aid would need to be underpinned by a modern agricultural system.

According to him, the country’s over-dependence on imported food is not just a security concern but a threat to building an economy based on industry. 

“If we are going to achieve this type of agriculture, we need technology and innovation. We targeted financing that addresses different constituencies within the agricultural value chain and then we need to look at our land tenure system”.

The Ghana Beyond Aid project, initiated by Ghana’s government, seeks to among other things build “a prosperous and self-confident Ghana that is in charge of her economic destiny, a transformed Ghana that is prosperous enough to be beyond needing aid, and that engages competitively with the rest of the world through trade and investment”.

Mr Gyamfi was speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Ghana Institute of Planners in Accra. 

Ghana’s economy has always been dominated by farming and agribusiness. Some sources estimate about half of the country’s population directly or indirectly employed in the sector.

But times are changing.

In recent years, manufacturing and service sectors have overtaken agriculture’s contribution to total Ghana’s GDP. This is the trend that has characterized almost all economic transformational processes in several countries.

For instance, in 1967 the share of manufacturing to total GDP in Ghana, Malaysia, and Thailand were 11.9%, 11.7% and 15.3%, respectively.

However, the contribution of these sectors to GDP grew significantly in Malaysia and Thailand to 28.4% and 31.1% in 1997 and 2010. 

The trend, Mr Gyamfi said, means that the investment into farming should service-driven, fuelled by modern technology and targeted at the most productive farmers. 

“The planner’s role in nation-building and development must take on a special meaning if an agricultural transformation process must unfold in contributing to the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.

The planner must become the custodian of the multidisciplinary actions required in harmonizing and assembling technologies. From crop physiologist, geneticist, irrigations engineers, crop protection specialists to environmentalist,” he said.

Formed in 1969, the Ghana Institute of Planners represents 270 members of the planning profession. It represents those in physical and urban planning, economic and regional planning, social and policy planning, transportation and planning research.

Its National President, Alfred Akwasi Opoku, drawing the link between the work of Planners, agriculture and achieving a Ghana Beyond Aid, said more qualified professional planners were needed to help government deliver the dream of making the country provide for its own development needs.

“The Ghana Institute of Planners remains resolute to support the government to implement the plans and policies that would bring improved livelihoods into the lives of the citizens. We are however challenged on a daily basis as to who is a professional planner and who is not,” he said.  

The 50 years anniversary of the GIP is being marked over two days in Accra this week.