Agriculture is a necessary tool to strength the economy after COVID-19- Stakeholders

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A group of agricultural organisations and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are proposing that the government must invest in the agricultural sector if it will revive the economy post-COVID-19.

According to them, since Ghana recorded its first cases of the pandemic, the country has not only suffered health crisis but also food security challenges.

For this reason, they have suggested an investment in the agricultural sector as an alleviation strategy. They further laid out some of their grievances which need to be addressed by the government for the recovery of both the sector and the economy.

The organisations are the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), the Internal Budget Partnership (IBP), Voice for Change Partnership Programme, GROW Partners, SENG Ghana and other like-minded groups.

COVID-19 challenges
In a press statement released by the group, they explained that smallholder farmers were facing increasing difficulties in accessing credits, markets, agricultural machinery and inputs, among others, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation, they said, might lead to malnutrition and hunger strike in the country if care was not taken.

The agricultural sector, which had over the past decades been poorly funded, was, however, looking forward to the 10 per cent budget allocation in the CAADP as stated in the mid-year budget review, they added.

Grievances
The statement outlined some grievances of the agricultural sector as described by the group.

Among several grievances, the group asked for an increase in input subsidy to farmers, and the creation of a special model to enable farmers directly supply their food produce to various channels.

They were also aggrieved with the unfriendly registration requirements for small holder farmers with regards to the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) Business Support Scheme which was targeted at micro and small enterprises.

They further called on the government to strike a balance between spending on the health sector and spending on the agricultural sector.

For them, that would increase food security and help boost the agricultural sector, as well as the economic growth of the country.

Suggestions
The group further made a call for the creation of a special stimulus facility solely for small holder farmers to enable them access financial credit at very flexible interest rates with extended moratorium periods. There is also the need for critical attention to be given to the location and sitting of warehouses in the food producing areas for adequate utilization, the group also suggested.

According to them, other alleviation plans should include, restructuring of Agricultural Mechanization Service Centers in order to reduce post-harvest losses, and the reduction in leakages, diversion and smuggling in the distribution channels of subsidized fertilizer.

Finally, they suggested that there is the need to create channels for direct supply of food to numerous distribution channels such as the School Feeding Programme and Feeding of SHS.

source: graphic.com.gh

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