Mr Kwesi Korboe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL), has stressed the need to develop value chain-specific infrastructure to address the needs of the various value chains in agricultural production.
Mr Korboe also called for the creation of a balance between the use of mechanization and manual systems of production, regardless of the form of production (small/ large scale).
He noted that freight by sea was more reliable than freight by air, for which reason, he said, export-oriented commodities should be packaged to have longer shelf-life and make them suitable for transportation by sea.
He called for more efficient production systems to meet demand in future occurrences, in view of the panic buying and inability to meet demands for commodities in the wake of COVID-19.
Mr Korboe called for a targeted investment into the development of efficient production systems and infrastructure, adding that initiatives targeted at promoting food security and industrialization should clearly distinguish between the subsistence farmer and medium/large-scale farmer, and that contiguous farming should be encouraged to take advantage of mechanization and cost efficiencies.
Furthermore, he said, new arrangements should be considered for agro-processing companies to always make them safe.
He was speaking in Accra on Thursday, November 12, 2020 at a Panel Discussion on the topic: Boosting Agricultural Value Chains in the Midst of Covid-19 and Political Party Manifestoes
The event, organized by the Institute of Statistical, Social; and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, Legon, and sponsored by the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), brought together key academics and sector practitioners to discuss growth-limiting challenges and exchange evidence-driven views and best practices towards a strong recovery for a more resilient sector.
The event also reviewed selected political manifestoes and discussed the salient points for transforming agricultural value chains in Ghana.
Contributing to the discussion, Prof. Irene Egyir, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Ghana, Legon, noted that small-holder farmers, who were in the majority, could not derive the maximum gains from the logistics made available as an intervention in the wake of COVID-19.
In addition, Prof. Egyir said, even though extension services were available, the application of precision methods were not being used and fertilizers were also not being applied the right way.
She noted that even though there was a slight improvement in post-harvest losses, after sales services, limited markets and low prices remained the same, despite the COVID-19 interventions.
She noted that there was improvement in digitization but due to the high cost of internet data, the use of technology remained low,
Prof. Egyir said in a COVID-19 situation, procurement was an underdeveloped phenomenon, research and development was low and infrastructure was limited, while human resource was largely unskilled, but employable.
Dr John Saviour Eleblu of the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) noted that the budget required to support the transforming structures were deficient and urged the political parties to strategize, adding that lower interest rates were necessary in this effort.
Dr Eleblu stressed the need for improved seeds, increased use of technology and improved systems of production such as irrigation, adding that 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be invested in infrastructure targeted at agriculture, while research and extension linkages should be strengthened.
On his part, Dr Fred Dzanku, ISSER, urged government to create the environment for investment in roads and research and development.
Dr Dzanku said a more structured approach beyond manifesto promises was required and that implementation of agricultural expansion projects was practically impossible without financial backing.
He said doling out handouts to farmers was not the best option and that incentives should be created for private sector investment in agriculture.
He said manifestos should be linked to a National Development Plan and urged government to ensure that the courts were adequately equipped to effectively deal with bank loan defaulters.
In his remarks, Prof. Peter Quartey, Director, ISSER and Chairman for the Panel Discussion, noted that even though political manifestoes had good development ideas, financing such manifesto promises was problematic in view of the country’s high debt to GDP ratio and declining revenues.
Prof. Quartey expressed concern about the risk in lending and stressed the need to adopt risk management practices to reduce the default rate.
Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq