Public-Private Partnership critical for agricultural growth, says MP

Hon. Samuel Abdulai Jabanyite, Member of Parliament for Chereponi constituency in the Northern Region, has called for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors towards the growth and development of agriculture as business in the country.

He explained that, agriculture remained the backbone of every successful developed country and that there was the needed for a cumulative public and private investment capital for Ghana’s agricultural sector development.

According to him,“The world has moved from the coal revolution (industrial) to the blue revolution(fisheries)  and is now on the green revolution(agriculture),and we  as a country must think in that direction.”

Hon. Jabanyite, a Deputy Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food and Agriculture, said this during an interview with The Republic on the 2018 budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector and the 33rd National Farmers Day in Accra last Friday.

He told the paper that, the key challenge in public-private partnerships in agriculture related to the transformation of the public sector and how policies and regulatory frameworks could be accelerated with catalytic public investment made in order to create the enabling environment for private investment.

The young legislator stated that, since the public sector alone cannot provide the level of investment needed to drive the agricultural sector, the private sector’s contribution to Africa’s agricultural transformation was imperative.

He added that, besides the key challenges of the public -private partnership, the sector is also faced with the government poor intervention in the prevention and control of diseases and pets as individual farmer’s efforts to control the disease is extremely difficult if not impossible due to financial.

Asked if Ghana has the capacity to move into full agricultural production country, Mr. Jabanyite said, it was possible, but all depends largely on the political will of the central government, stating that, “all successive governments have failed miserably in the agriculture sector.”

“Our governments over the years (both past and present) have been paying lip services to our agriculture sector and I think it is about time we paid more attention to the agriculture sector, because we have the fertile land.”

He continued, “The private sector needs to be encouraged, government needs to encourage the private sector and give farmers better incentives, because the services sector, like the banking, is no longer attractive, treasury bills are going down and what have you, so we need to go the green revolutionary way.”

In the 2018 budget, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s (MOFA), its Departments and Agencies’ (MDAs) total allocation declined by 0.3%.

However, in nominal terms, the ministry’s allocation increased slightly from GHS 572,223,738.18 in 2017 to GHS 598,620,435.00 in 2018, with the recent focus on agricultural industrialisation through flagship programmes like ‘One Village One Dam’, ‘One District One Factory’ and ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ inter alia, significant increase in allocation was expected.

A significant drop in donor funding (from 49% to 21.5%) was observed in the 2018 agriculture sector budget. The burden appears to have been shifted to Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), increasing MOFA’s reliance on the fund from 18% in 2017 to 41.6% in 2018.

The allocation for compensation also rose significantly from GHS 43,905,470.00 in 2017 to GHS 61,052,712.00 in 2018, while that for goods and services to MOFA declined sharply from GHS 456,066,590.00 in 2017 to GHS 157,147,870.00 and CAPEX fell slightly from GHS 249,704,281.00 in 2017 to GHS 248,265,991.00 in 2018.

This, Mr Jabanyite said, remained worrying and contradictory given that the broad agenda of government in the short to medium term is to create jobs through investment in agriculture and agribusiness, among others.

He argued that, government plans to register 500,000 farmers under the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ campaign in 2018, an increase of 150% from 200,000 in 2017, but the  budget, however, is loudly silent on the quantity of inputs such as subsidized fertilizers and seeds to be procured and distributed to support the initiative.

In 2017, about half (121,000MT out of a target of 233,356MT) of subsidized fertilizers target was met and 77% of (4,454.98 MT out of a target of 5,767.50MT) subsidized seeds target was procured and distributed.

Again, he said what is most disturbing was the fact that, farmers and for that matter Ghanaians want to know at what quantity of subsidized fertilizer and seed is needed for the 500,000 targeted farmers? What measures are put in place to mitigate the shortfalls witnessed in 2017?

He cited Nigeria as a country that has within a short period between 2015 and 2017 been able to produce rice to exceed its importation rate to buttress to the point that, Ghana could do better equally if government after government gives credence to the agriculture sector.

“Nigeria is a country that consumption rice and used to pay between $900-1billion to pay duties for importation of about 6.3 million metric tones of rice annually. But in the last two to three years, Nigeria has been able to produce about 7million metric tones in excess of 700,000 mt, thereby reducing the import from 6. 3mmt to 21,000mt annually,” he stated.

He said, Agriculture in Africa , particularly in  Ghana, remained low but expressed the view that should government devote resources and investment opportunity with partnership with the private sector, it could be improved.

Hon. Jabanyite, who himself is a farmer, therefore challenged the youth of the country never to wait to get enough funds before venturing into agriculture, noting that,  Agric-business does not necessarily need to have huge capital but with little by little they become big time farmers.

He also called on government to increase the annual best farmer award to regional and districts where farming is most intensive for the hard working farmers who being feeding the nation to appreciate their effort.

While admitting that, at least something appreciative had been done for farmers from a cutlass to a pair of Wellington boots, to motorbike, pickup and now a three-bed room over the years, the Chereponi MP believed that more needed to be done on grounds that farmers in the country have worked so hard to feed the nation but the rewards are still not really adequate compared to the risk.

He expressed gratitude to all farmers for the hard work over the years, especially those in the Chereponi District and assured that as a farmer who found his way to parliament, he would continue to advocate for their condition.



Source: Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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