The Deputy MD of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Alhassan Yakubu-Tali, has stressed that the agriculture sector will continue to play the needed pivotal role that has the tendency to catapult Ghana to achieving the Ghana beyond aid agenda.

He noted that agriculture would certainly transform the Ghanaian economy for sustained growth and job creation.

Mr. Alhassan Yakubu-Tali said this in an exclusive interview at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, after ADB made a sponsorship presentation for GHC536,000 to the 2019 Best Farmer Awards.

He stated that for a sector that employs over 40% of the Ghanaian workforce, contributes over 22% of GDP, a high contributor to Ghana’s export earnings and a key source of inputs for the manufacturing sector; especially with government’s 1D1F programme are all indicators that indeed the agriculture sector is the game-changer.

He said a country that underestimates agriculture has automatically deprived itself of development.

“Look around you, Ghana has lots of arable land and statistics indicate that, our arable land as a share of land area has only increased from 7.5 % in 1967, to 20.7 % as at 2016; growing at an average annual rate of 2.15 %.

Out of our over 230,000 km2 agriculture land area; 58,000 km2 (24.4 %) is under cultivation and 11,000 hectares are under irrigation. A country like Ghana must not be importing produce such as rice, maize, onion, tomatoes etc. We need to modernize our agriculture and increase productivity. We can definitely do more”, he said.

He said the 2020 budget has an increased budgetary allocation to the agric sector and the targeting of public spending on agriculture through the various flagship programmes such as the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ), Planting for Exports and Rural Development (PERD) and the construction of 30 new warehouses to augment the country’s storage capacity, all give comfort to Ghanaians that government would not catch the Dutch disease from the  oil and gas find, but remain committed to growing the agric sector.

“Also, the establishment of cattle ranches in selected locations to address persistent conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and food crops farmers, are all indicators of government’s total support to farmers and  the agric sector at large”, he added.

Mr. Alhassan Yakubu-Tali indicated that the presentation of the prize money for the National Best farmer re-affirms ADB’s commitment to the agriculture sector since it has been doing that for the past 34 years with this year’s edition making the 35th.

He said since the management of the bank took over in 2017, it has elevated the agric financing function of the bank from a department to a division to reemphasize its commitment to providing sustainable and adequate financing to the agric sector.

“We are further motivated by the setting-up of the Ghana Incentive-based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) by the Bank of Ghana, to encourage financial institutions to invest more in agriculture. This comes as good news to us, as we at ADB would leverage on this system to improve agric financing and ensure a larger chunk of our loan portfolio is geared towards the agric sector”, he said confidently.