Revive agric to salvage economy from collapse


Reviving the dwindling fortunes and ensuring modernisation of agriculture are the surest ways of turning Ghana’s ailing economy around in the short- and medium-term, Ken Thompson-Chief Executive Officer of Dalex Finance, has said.

He is of the view that unless government turns its full attention to agriculture through direct and potent policies, required infrastructure, finance and capacity, no sector can lead the change that government seeks in the short to medium-term.

“Provide the relevant infrastructure; e.g. roads, dams, post-harvest storage etc. Provide access to financing, high-quality seeds, fertiliser, and water for smallholder farmers while attracting private investment into large-scale farming,” he said.

Speaking at the third successive Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana organised seminar, ‘An Evening With…” that came off at the Alisa Hotel, Accra, Mr. Thompson was very adamant about how bleak the future of this nation will be if government and critical stakeholders continue to pursue policies and programmes through political lenses.

Speaking on the topic ‘In the Abundance of Water…Ghana’s Economy In 2016’, he categorically stated that the country’s economic woes defy solution, mainly due to a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth by corrupt means.

According to him, despite a global economic slowdown, prices of commodities falling on the world market, and an appreciation of the US dollar, Ghana’s economic woes are self-inflicted and corruption is the catalyst.

“Every stakeholder is calling for their pound of flesh in salaries and allowances. Political Parties are playing the blame-game and not interested in real solutions. We are neither able to muster the courage nor the support to undertake the belt-tightening measures required,” he said.

A World Bank Report on Agriculture for development, published in 2008, stated that in the 21st century agriculture continues to be a fundamental instrument for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

The report added that using agriculture as the basis for economic growth in the agriculture-based countries, of which Ghana is included, requires a productivity revolution in smallholder farming.

But government’s attention to agriculture continues to fall every year. Statistics from the budget read by Finance Minister Seth Terkper recently showed that the allocation from petroleum receipts to agriculture in 2013 was GH¢4.6million while capacity building benefitted from GH¢32million.

In 2014, agriculture’s benefit increased to GH¢9.9million while capacity building benefitted from nothing — but in 2015, despite agriculture rising to GH¢27million, capacity building rose sharply to GH¢136million.

From the government’s own annual budget statement, while agriculture grew by 5.7 percent in 2013 it growth shrank to 4.6 percent in 2014 and fell drastically to 0.04 percent in 2015.

While local production decreases and is gradually grinding to a halt, imports of food that could be produced locally continue unabated.

Import figures show that Ghana spent close to US$2billion on food, which includes rice, chicken and other poultry products, sugar, edible oil, canned tomato-paste, fish and wheat; and these, according to analysts and agriculture experts can be easily produced locally.

Apart from US$600million spent on importing rice, US$250million each is spent on sugar and edible oil. Another US$300million brings in fish while US$250million imports wheat, US$160million is spent on poultry and another US$100million on canned tomato paste.

“We fail to face up to our being broke; our borrowing is foolhardy, taxation is inequitable and we cannot feed our people,” he lamented.



Source: B&FT Online