Graphic Business News

‘Release funds for Agric Ministry on time’

By: Ama Amanwkah Baafi
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto - Agric Minister
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto - Agric Minister

THE Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs has asked the Ministry of Finance to ensure that adequate funds are released in the 2018 fiscal year to guarantee agricultural growth and success of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PfFJ) Programme.

The committee expressed dissatisfaction with the inadequate funds provided to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) for the execution of its earmarked programmes in 2017.

A report of the committee on the annual budget estimates of MoFA for the 2018 fiscal year shows that only 32.8 per cent of the approved sum of GH₵759,676,342 (Government of Ghana component of GH₵246,378,000, donor-GH₵372,619,029, internally generated fund-GH₵2,465,093 and ABFA of GH₵138,214,220) was released in 2017.

Indeed, only GH₵240,901,000 had been released by September 2017 to the MoFA for its activities.

 “Agric continues to be the backbone of Ghana’s economy. It is therefore necessary that attention and financial resources are given to the MoFA to ensure growth in the agricultural sector,” the report stated.

2018 budgetary allocation
A total of GH₵598,620,435 has been allocated to the agric sector, out of which GH₵136,200,251 (22.75 per cent) has been earmarked for management and administration and GH₵427,379,776 (71.39 per cent) to food security and emergency preparedness.

The rest of the programmes include marketing of agric products at international markets- GH₵20,000, GH₵85,000 to management of land and environment and GH₵530,000 to application of science and technology in food and agric development.

Performance in 2017
A total of 201,000 farmers were registered nationwide, 2,160 university graduates and 1,070 youth were recruited under the flagship agric programme, the PfFJ.

To promote seed and planting material development, 121,000 metric tonnes of subsidised fertilisers and 4,454.98 metric tonnes of subsidised seeds of maize, rice, sorghum, soya bean and vegetables were distributed to beneficiary farmers.

The National Buffer Stock Company in collaboration with the Agricultural Development Bank registered over a thousand licensed buying companies to procure foodstuffs from farmers including those participating on the PfFJ programme.

Also, MoFA in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other ministries, department and agencies registered suppliers to distribute farm produce from the PfFJ programme to public institutions including the school feeding and free senior high school programmes, prisons, defence and police to ensure quality food is supplied in a timely manner.

Outlook for 2018
To increase productivity and reduce post-harvest losses, MoFA will establish 50 Farmer Service Centres (FSC) for timely and enhanced access to mechanisation services.

The centres will provide services such as farm machinery, input supply, farmer training, machine manufacturing and repair and storage services.

A strategic stock of insecticides and other logistics will be built to ensure ready availability of chemicals during future outbreaks as well as intensification of farmer education, monitoring and surveillance.

Again in 2018, about 2,000 livestock farmers will be supported with 70,000 small ruminants in all 10 regions and the ministry will support six national livestock breeding stations to produce and distribute 200 cross-bred heifers, 1,700 improved pigs and 100,000 cockerels.

In terms of marketing of agricultural produce, at least a total of 140 existing warehouses would be rehabilitated and 18 new ones would be constructed and equipped with seed cleaners, dryers and weighing scales.