The agricultural sector is one of the economic pillars of Ghana which contributes to socioeconomic growth and development. Agriculture is the second largest employer, engaging about 38.3% of the country’s labor force, following the Services sector (GLSS 7, 2019). Agriculture remains the main driver of achieving food and nutrition security. Over the last medium term, 2018-2021, the growth rate of the sector declined from 4.9% in 2018 to 4.7% in 2019 and increased sharply to 7.3% and 8.4% in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The average growth rate over the period 2018 to 2021 was 6.31%. Between 2018 and 2021, the crops subsector experienced a fluctuating performance – 5.8% in 2018, 5.3% in 2019, 8.6% in 2020 and 8.9% in 2021.
The government of Ghana under its four year (2022-2025) medium-term plan of the agricultural sector spells out the operational framework to develop the sector as envisaged in the overall National Medium-Term Development Policy Framework (NMTDPF, 2022-2025) of the Government of Ghana. The plan aligns with international policy frameworks such as the SDGs at the global level, CAADP-Malabo at the continental level and the ECOWAP at the regional level. At the national level, the plan takes its root from the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II) which is the overarching policy framework for the sector. The thrust of this medium-term plan is the modernization of the agricultural sector. This is expected to be achieved by expending at least 10% of the national budget to the sector with an expected annual growth rate of at least 6%.
The key development issues identified under the current agricultural sector in Ghana include: disruptions in supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russo-Ukraine conflict; poor marketing systems; high cost of production inputs; poor storage and transportation systems; low proportion of irrigated agriculture; low transfer and uptake of research findings and improved technologies leading to comparatively lower yields; weak nutrition-sensitive food systems; high post-harvest losses and waste especially of fruits and vegetables.
A modernized agriculture means the opportunities that exist within the sector both internally and externally are leveraged on. For instance, there is the need to create the right conditions for the private sector to accelerate growth and create decent job opportunities, especially for the youth, while providing adequate raw materials for industry through the increased production and productivity of crops and livestock. This medium-term plan will therefore promote a demand driven approach to agricultural development, focusing on quantity, quality and timely delivery of produce, while safeguarding food adequacy in the short term, and food security in the medium to long term. Most importantly, the plan is designed with strategic interventions that seek to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and Russo-Ukraine conflict on the global supply chains of agrifood system in the short term and make the sector more resilient in the medium to long term.
In this regard, the Ghana Investing for Food and Jobs II (IFJII)will build on existing systems established and consolidate the gains of ongoing efforts to ensure the provision of critical public infrastructure such as feeder roads, post-harvest facilities, and soil and water management infrastructure, electricity and water as well as innovative agricultural financing mechanisms and need-based technical assistance or extension support.
In line with IFJII, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is set to launch a new initiative to enhance food production in the country and ensure food security for the next five years. Under a newly designed flagship program, MoFA has put on hold the subsidy for its flagship ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) program, after six years of implementation. The new flagship – PFJII, seeks a more sustainable method of financing fertilizer and seeds for farmers instead of the annual subsidy placed on inputs – which is largely unsustainable to maintain. Instead of subsidies on fertilizer, seeds and other inputs, PFJII will adopt a value chain approach; whereby aggregators (out-growers) will acquire inputs from government and distribute them to member-farmers. The harvests will not only be purchased by MoFA to cater for government interventions such as the School Feeding Program, but also by aggregators and others. Key associations such as poultry farmers and multinationals including Nestle will also be targeted for supplies. The PJFII aims at lowering farmers’ production costs, and projects to support approximately 3.5 million farmers in the country.
This new approach, which is an alternative way of supporting farmers, contrasts the PFJ system wherein government subsidized seeds and fertilizers across the board for all farmers and payments were made to input distributors. The new intervention is expected to bring stiff competition for quality delivery from fertilizer distributors, as their products will no longer be subsidized by government but sold on the open market providing guarantee to farmers in terms of quality inputs. On the other hand, aggregators now have the choice to decide which distributor to buy from on the open market, based on quality and pricing.
The program aims to decrease the entrance barrier into agriculture so that more people, particularly the young, can enter into the agricultural sector. The new initiative will also allow farmers to acquire fertilizer at lower pricing. Furthermore, ten priority crops and poultry have been identified for the country’s food security strategy and each has its strategy, objectives and plan. Rolling out these plans and the overall PFJII requires the effective and efficient delivery systems, including knowledge and understanding on creating enabling environment for private sector development. It is in this regard the Minister for MoFA is seeking the services of a technical expert to support his office in rolling out the PFJII program.