Agriculture Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto

The Minister for Food and Agriculture has hinted at the passage of a bill which would compel commercial banks in the country to award a significant percentage of their loan facilities to agricultural players.

According to Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, he’s resorting to this drastic measure in response to the failure of the banks to help alleviate the plight of farmers particularly poultry farmers as the cost of production sky rockets.

“It is rather the commercial banks who are dealing with these farmers who should know that they have their customers whose cost of production have gone up and therefore to support them with credits which the banks are not doing,” he said on JoyNews’ PM Express.

He explained that agitations from poultry farmers over the high cost of feed and other basic materials needed in their line of work is not as a result of government failure to address these concerns, but rather the failure of banks to support these farmers with loans to augment their capital.

“If you’re a poultry farmer and you’ve farmed 10, 15 years obviously you’d have a relationship with a bank. And if your situation has changed, your cost of production has gone up, they should support you, but they’re not.

“They rather gave these monies to these women going to China to buy these cheap stuff to come and sell. So we explained to them, and we’re not even saying we haven’t spoken to the banks, we’ve been speaking to the banks but they’re not responding this time,” he bemoaned.

As a result, the Minister says he’s looking to India to adapt agricultural policies that have yielded significant results for them and could do same for Ghana.

“We don’t have any government policy on that. This is monetary policy. Interest rates are this and that and that, but in places like India they have a law which says that for every 100 rupees that you lend 20 rupees should go to agriculture. And this is what we’re looking at.

“In fact, I’ve had a meeting with the Indian High Commission in my office today, this morning, for him to give me that legislation so that we can look at it and adapt it to our Ghanaian situation with the help of the Attorney General, draft something for cabinet to approve to go to Parliament.

“…the principle is that if persuasion fails then you use the law,” he said.