The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is collaborating with the Local Government Services to deepen the involvement of small-scale farmers in the design and implementation of agricultural programmes.
On Monday, the two institutions held the first of two capacity-building seminars for farmers, assembly members, chiefs, district directors of agriculture and planning officers on the best practices to improve collective interaction in the agricultural value chain.
The seminar, held at the Ange Hill Hotel in Accra drew representatives from some selected district assemblies in the southern sector, including Jomoro District, Shaman Ahanta District, Fanteakwa District among others.
A northern sector seminar is scheduled for next week and will seek to achieve a similar objective for selected districts in the northern part of Ghana.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day seminar, Director of Programmes and Advocacy at PFAG, Charles Nyaba, said overall, the seminars -- in southern and northern sector -- will equip participants with an understanding the district assembly governance proces.
"When they go back, anytime there is a decision concerning agriculture these actors will be able to interact so that at the end of the day farmers’ issues will be addressed," he said.
Lack of transformation
Despite the various programmes that government is rolling out to support agricultural development, the sector is struggling to yield meaningful gains for the economy.
A recent report by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has noted that Ghana and many African countries are still struggling to follow the lead of Asian countries in using agriculture to spark widespread economic growth despite well-intended policies for the sector.
The report noted that African countries have been largely unable to marshal strong political support for the sector and then pair it with compelling visions, strategies and related implementation capacity for transforming their poorly-performing farms.
The report, ‘Catalysing State Capacity to Drive Agricultural Transformation’, is the most comprehensive assessment to date on the role of state capacity and political will in achieving that ‘transformation’ – a catch-all term for work required to boost production and incomes on the millions of small, family farms that grow most of Africa’s food, but where output often lags far below global averages.
Collaboration is key
Speaking to journalists on Monday at the PFAG-Local Government Service collaborative seminar, Mr Nyaba also said in Ghana, despite the many agric-oriented policies like Planting for Food and Jobs, a lack of collaboration between the implementing agencies at the district assembly level, local authorities and local farmers is a major cause of the lack of 'transformation'.
“There are a lot of programmes that government is implementing to support the agricultural sector. But in most occasions, before the design of these programmes, the views of farmers are normally not taken into consideration so it leads to some of the programmes either not being effective when implemented, poorly implemented or farmers not even being aware of these programmes,” he said.
The two zonal national seminars will, therefore, seek to change that trend by providing an opportunity for farmers to work together during programme design and implementation of agric policies.
Participants of the seminars in a group photo
Focusing on the specific issues that the seminar will seek to address, Mr Nyaba said, “we want them to understand the Local Government Act; they will also need to understand district assembly instruments, channels to getting farmers’ issues addressed,” he mentioned a few.
Some $15,000, part of which is provided by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), will be spent on the capacity building seminars for the selected districts in the southern and northern sectors of the country.
Buttressing the need for such collaborative efforts between farmers and local government authorities, Executive Director of PFAG, Victoria Adongo, said the two sectors must work together to achieve development targets because development is really a local level effort.
“Farmers are at the local level and the role of the farmer is important. Farmers cannot make meaningful impact if they don’t understand the process of local governance,” she said.