The Director of the Department of Co-operatives for the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions, Robertson Obiri Adjei says lack of government support and attention means the country cannot derive any meaningful benefits from Co-operative Associations.
Over the years, the department continues to suffer neglect, rendering them ineffective in the discharge of their mandate.
According to Obiri Adjei, if the government were to equip the department with logistics and financial aid, the impact of Co-operative Associations in Ghana would have been felt greatly in the policies under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
He spoke to Joy News on the sidelines of a day’s sensitisation workshop by the Ghana Co-operative Agricultural Producers and Marketing Association Ltd (AGRICOOPS) in Sunyani.
The workshop was under the theme, “Research finding report toward the review and promulgation of new co-operative law”.
“Agriculture can well develop in Ghana with the complementary effort of Co-operative Associations,” he said, adding, “it can only be achieved if the development of these Co-operatives is sustained.”
Obiri Adjei noted the Department of Co-operatives, which is under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, is to nature and sensitise these Co-operative Associations to ensure they have access to Agriculture directors, easy distribution of inputs and funds, etc to increase their yields.
But the “departments have no means of transport and other logistics to move to the farmers to educate and train them to the benefit of the economy.
“There is total neglect in the Co-operative colleges in Ghana and the last batch of trainees will fade out in 2022,” he lamented, adding, “government must inject financial support to aid the training of co-operative staff to help the Associations to achieve their object”.
“AGRICOOPS”, formed in 1974 has gone through some challenges which are impacting negatively on their performance. According to the General Manager of “AGRICOOPS”, Victor Atsu Alorbu, a research they conducted, confirmed that “the existing law is not business friendly for ‘non-co-operators’ to invest in the Co-operatives”.
He alluded to the fact that, the over 200,000 AGRICOOPS membership are starved of the required services from the Department of Co-operatives, thereby unable to practice the Co-operatives tenets well. This Mr Alorbu heavily attributed to the under the resourced department.
“Co-operative is a sector that can create employment for majority of Ghanaians since we operate along the Agriculture value chain, should it get the needed support from Government,” Mr Alorbu said.
He said his outfit is engaging duty bearers, with support from BUSAC fund, DANIDA, USAID and European Union, to review and promulgate a new cooperative law that will be favourable to the Agriculture Co-operatives.
He however implored Government “to engage and give special priority to Agriculture Co-operatives and other stakeholders in the drafting and discussions on the 2017 Co-operative bill.”
Ebenezer Kyei Bediako, Director, Ghana National Alliance on Land, Agriculture and Forest, wondered how a department such as Co-operative is expected to carry out its mandate with no financial resources and the lack of staffs.
“What are we saying as a nation when a department mandated by law to facilitate the processes of the co-operative formation is fading out of the system,” he asked, adding Ghana may have no Co-operative staff in the next three years should it fail to reverse the situation.
Going forward, Mr Kyei Bediako said, there is the need for government to collaborate with departments, non-governmental institutions and well-meaning Ghanaians, “to support the formulation and development of the co-operatives to ensure that farmers are well assisted for a better output.”
He also entreated government to strengthen marketing and processing of yields along the Agriculture value chain to ensure that farmers derive the maximum benefit as production is whipped up.
The consultant for AGRICOOP, Lawyer Gloria Ofori Boadu reiterated the need to review the co-operative law passed in 1968 to be in tune with modern times. This she believes, apart from generating employment, will also position members well to attract loans to expand their farms and take full advantage of the many government policies such as the planting for food and jobs and one district one factory.